With their final game of the regular season, the Florida Panthers were looking to end off with a bang, taking on the Boston Bruins.
Backup netminder James Reimer would start in-goal for the Panthers tonight, while regular starter Tuuka Rask would guard the pipes for the home side. Would the Panthers ruin the Bruins chance of grabbing first place in the Atlantic?
Despite being their final game of the season, the Florida Panthers came out with a bang. It only took the away side a minute and a half in, to score the game’s opening goal. Panthers’ #1 prospect Henrik Borgstrom walked in and sniped a shot past Tuuka Rask, giving the Panthers an early 1-0 lead:
The Panthers’ quickly turned their momentum into a power play opportunity, when Zdeno Chara hooked Colton Sceviour on his way to goal. The Cats managed to set up nicely in the Bruins’ zone, but failed to get any quality shots off.
Shortly after the Bruins killed off Chara’s penalty, David Backes recorded his 14th goal of the year. Backes pounced on a loose rebound which came from Colin Miller’s point-shot, leveling the game at one apiece:
A couple of minutes after Backes’ goal, Aaron Ekblad committed a hooking penalty against Noel Acciari. The Panthers’ penalty killing unit killed off the penalty successfully, preserving the score at a goal a side.
Just before the first period ended, Frank Vatrano sniped a rocket past Tuuka Rask, regaining the Panthers’ one-goal lead (2-1):
The Cats would go on the power play once again, courtesy of David Pastrnak’s tripping call on Michael Matheson. The Panthers would not cash in on their second man advantage, promptly heading into the dressing room shortly after (up a goal after one).
Florida carried their first period momentum to start the second, pouring pressure down deep in the Bruins’ territory. Jared McCann created a nice little chance of his own, when he pulled off a between-the-legs type shot, which ended up skimming wide.
The Panthers ran into trouble moments later, when Vincent Trocheck slashed David Pastrnak, gifting the Bruins their second man advantage of the night. Thankfully though, the Panthers’ penalty killing unit killed it off successfully, forcing Boston to go 0/2 on the man advantage.
Maxim Mamin would double the Panthers’ lead with under seven minutes to go, snapping a shot through Tuuka’s five-hole:
Mamin’s goal would send the Panthers into the locker room with a two-goal lead (3-1). The second period was all Florida in play, shown by their relentless pressure in the Bruins’ zone. The third period would be the Panthers’ final twenty minutes of the season; however, would they pull through with a win?
The Bruins completely turned around the game to start the third, pinning the Cats in their own end for quite some time. James Reimer was continuing to deny every puck that came his way, no matter how many shots the Bruins peppered him with.
Boston ran into some trouble early on when Charlie McAvoy elbowed former teammate Frank Vatrano up high. The Panthers received their third power play of the night, but completely squandered it. Score remained 3-1 in favor of the Cats for the time being.
Just before the halfway mark in the third, the Bruins found some life. On the power play (Huberdeau high-stick), David Pastrnak cut the Panthers’ lead in half, beating James Reimer on the empty side of his cage:
It wasn’t long after until Reimer was shaken up, going down after pulling his groin. Panthers’ trainer came running onto the ice, immediately going straight to Reimer’s cage. It took James a bit to get up and brush off the pain, but Reimer gave the trainer the signal that he was good to go.
Although, he wasn’t really good to go, going down again minutes later, signaling the end of his night. Veteran starter Roberto Luongo would come out onto the ice and play in the remainder of the third period for the injured James Reimer.
Luongo made some key saves to preserve the Panthers’ one-goal lead, and even gave the Cats an opportunity to close out the game as well. It wasn’t long after until Dadonov recorded his 28th goal of the year, sealing the coffin in this contest.
After getting hammered hard onto the ice by Charlie McAvoy, Evgeni Dadonov got up and scored the Panthers’ fourth goal. After the puck squirted out into Tuuka’s crease, Dadonov pounced on the loose rebound:
The Florida Panthers would go on to close out the 2017-18 regular season with a win against the Boston Bruins, 4-2.
In closing, the Panthers played one heck of a hockey game, completely dominating the Bruins throughout the majority of this contest. Despite missing out on this year’s playoffs, the Cats have a lot to look forward to for next season.
Be sure to follow our coverage throughout this summer (packed with Entry-Level Draft, Free Agency, and other Panthers related content in store for this offseason). Thanks again for reading as always!