Coming off a 6-5 shootout win in the Big Apple, the Florida Panthers were looking to make it two straight against the struggling Boston Bruins.
Thankfully, Sergei Bobrovsky was able to weather the storm, keeping the score tied at zero apiece. As the game progressed – so did the Panthers’ play – but they were unable to generate any significant offense.
With both netminders keeping the score locked and facing minimal shots, most of the play was taking place in the neutral zone, with Florida and Boston playing tight lines and denying zone entries.
Just before the period concluded, Aleksander Barkov drew a high-sticking call with 12.9 seconds remaining, sending the Panthers to their first power play of the game.
With the sound of the buzzer going off seconds later, it was scoreless after twenty minutes of play for both teams alike.
To kick-off the second, the Panthers started with 1:48 remaining on their power play from the end of the first, but the Cats couldn’t get much going and failed to capitalize on their opportunity.
As the Panthers were on their power play, though, the lights at TD Garden suddenly went off, with both teams still playing (for a few seconds ) during a short power outage.
Florida returned to the power play after Patrice Bergeron held Barkov, sending the Cats to their second man advantage. But like the first, the Panthers just couldn’t set up in the Bruins’ zone.
Boston continued pouring pressure onto the Panthers, and in result, were rewarded their first power play of the night when Dryden Hunt was called for a hold.
Unlike the Panthers’ power play, however, the Bruins capitalized on their first opportunity, wasting absolutely no time. In the slot, Anders Bjork squeezed a wrister through Bobrovsky’s arm to triple the Bruins’ lead.
Things only got worse for Florida as they conceded a fourth before the second period expired. Zdeno Chara followed his original pass and stuffed a loose rebound home to give the Bruins a commanding four-goal lead.
After forty minutes of play, the Panthers had dug themselves in a hole that appeared impossible to get out of. But then, a miracle happened!
Just before the puck was dropped to start the third, head coach Joel Quenneville decided that after allowing four goals on 15 shots that it was best to pull Bobrovsky and substitute Sam Montembeault in as his reliever.
In the opening few minutes of the final frame, the Panthers bagged a couple of quick ones. The first came from Aaron Ekblad, who sniped a shot to get the Cats on the board. Then, Frank Vatrano followed up just minutes later after wiring a shot of his own to cut the Bruins’ lead in half. All of a sudden, the Panthers finally found some life!
On their fourth power play, the Panthers managed to cash in via Mike Hoffman to bring the game within a goal. They had just under six minutes to find an equalizer, which no one – including my self – would’ve thought was possible from the end of the second period onwards.
Well, to your surprise, the Panthers did it and managed to come all the way back from four goals down. With about a minute and a half remaining in regulation, Barkov drove to Rask’s cage, with a loose puck sitting in the crease after a scramble occurred. Keith Yandle pounced on the loose rebound and roofed it home to send the game to overtime.
In extra time, both teams exchanged high-danger chances, which created an exciting, back-and-forth style game. Montembeault was sharp, denying every attempt that came his way, while Rask – at the other side – did the exact same.
With the five-minute overtime expiring, a shootout was needed to decide a winner. Frank Vatrano and Chris Wagner both stepped up first for their respective sides but were denied. Vincent Trocheck shot second and blazed a shot past Rask, while Montembeault denied Brad Marchand.
Then, in the third round – with a chance to win it – Jonathan Huberdeau was denied cleanly, giving Charlie Coyle an opportunity to send it to extra shooters on a must-score attempt. Without any doubt, Coyle buried his shot and sent the shootout to a fourth round.
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In the fourth, Hoffman stepped up cool and collectively, wristing his shot to give Florida the shootout lead once again. In another must-score attempt, the game was to be decided between Charlie McAvoy and Sam Montembeault.
In the end, though, it was the 23-year-old netminder who came out victorious, leading the comeback Cats to a 5-4 shootout victory in TD Garden. This game marked the largest comeback in Florida Panthers history – down four goals.
Despite getting completely manhandled during the second period, it was incredible the amount of determination and fight that each player showed while being four goals down with twenty minutes left to play.
Of course, while the credit certainly goes to the players and Montembeault for staying in the fight and clawing their way back, we can’t overlook Joel Quenneville. I truly believe that without him behind this bench, this wouldn’t have been possible.
In short, bad-average teams would’ve sat back and taken a beating. Good teams would’ve crawled their way back but would’ve fallen short. Great teams, however, would’ve completed the comeback at all costs. This team is becoming a great team. Just mark my words…
Your Panthers are back in action on Thursday, November. 14 @ 7 P.M. against the Winnipeg Jets. Be there as the Cats look to extend their win streak to three in front of their home crowd.