Florida Panthers’ Alterations Not Enough, Drop Third Straight Game, 4-2

SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 14: David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins scores against Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky #72 of the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center on December 14, 2019 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)
SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 14: David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins scores against Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky #72 of the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center on December 14, 2019 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Another disappointing evening in Sunrise on Saturday as the Florida Panthers lost their third game in a row, this time to the Boston Bruins by a final score of 4-2.

With this loss and Toronto’s win in Edmonton, the Florida Panthers have now slipped to sixth place in the Atlantic Division. This marks the third three-game losing streak this year, the first where not just a majority, but all three games have come at home.

While it’s easy to say that there’s no shame in losing to the Boston Bruins, who snapped their five-game losing skid in this game, the Panthers simply weren’t up to it for the first forty minutes. Boston jumped out of the gates with intensity and never looked back.

Part of the problem was the mass shift of the forwards going into this game. Vincent Trocheck started at first-line right wing this season, Denis Malgin was back centring on the second line, and Brett Connolly and Brian Boyle, who hadn’t played together in two weeks, were on the third line.

The Bruins had 22 shots in the first period alone. To put that into reference, Florida only had 27 shots in their entire game against Tampa Bay on Tuesday. It was one of the better first periods that any team had played this season, and the Panthers skaters simply had no response.

The Panthers only chance tonight was built through Sergei Bobrovsky. Starting in his fifth straight game, Bobrovsky was fantastic yet again, stopping 38 out of 41 shots. He had some really fantastic saves, including Charlie Coyle‘s breakaway in the first, as well as a save on a fairly-questionable penalty shot decision, denying the league’s leading goalscorer David Pastrnak.

Getting back to the first period, the Bruins were by far the better team. Florida whiffed on their power play opportunities, failed to gain control of the puck for a vast majority of the period, and deservedly went 1-0 down.

With roughly six and a half minutes to go in the first, Anton Stralman made a mess of a bouncing puck. The puck bounced over his stick, springing Jake DeBrusk clean on goal. Bobrovsky could do little about it, with DeBrusk launching the puck past the Panthers’ keeper to give Boston the advantage.

Similarly to the New York Islanders game Thursday night, Florida again got off to a horrendous start to the second period. Roughly two minutes after the Panthers finished killing a penalty, Boston took advantage of an offensive zone face-off to push the lead to 2-0.

Florida gave David Krejci far too much space in the slot, and his one-timer crept just underneath Bobrovsky’s pads, just crossing the line before defenseman Josh Brown hooked it away from the goal line. Krejci’s seventh of the season put Florida into trouble, yet the Panthers couldn’t find their way back into it.

Soon enough, a lazy penalty taken by Trocheck led to Boston’s third of the game. Brad Marchand‘s feed across the slot to David Pastrnak to strike his 27th of the season would have been more impressive if the entire Panthers’ team wasn’t watching the puck. Patrice Bergeron‘s movement towards the crease left MacKenzie Weegar cheating off the far post, which Pastrnak had all by himself, tapped it in, 3-0 Boston.

After that, it seemed like Boston started to take their foot off the gas, and Florida managed to edge their way back into it. The Panthers surrendered just four more shots on goal after Pastrnak’s power-play goal and found some life early on into the third period.

Keith Yandle and Aaron Ekblad, albeit not the greatest when paired together in the past, each put in phenomenal shifts in this one, both not at fault for any goals, but a very big reason for both of Florida’s.

It was Ekblad’s shot from the point which deflected around the slot after Bruins’ goalie Jaroslav Halak failed to deal with it, and Mark Pysyk stabbed home his second goal of the season. Pysyk, used as a forward tonight, got his second point (both primary) in his last two games, putting the Panthers on the board.

Halak was mostly solid tonight but got caught cheating his near post when Keith Yandle’s long-range bomb reduced the deficit to one. Yandle’s fourth on the season was a knuckleball of a shot, twisting all throughout the flight pattern of the shot, eventually kissing off the far post and into the net.

On top of that, they were very solid defensively. Aaron Ekblad made a crucial play inside the final ten minutes, cutting off Bergeron’s feed for Marchand in the slot, which would have certainly been Boston’s fourth goal.

Boston did eventually get that fourth goal, on an empty-netter with just over two minutes to play. The Panthers didn’t properly set up for an offensive zone face-off, which can be blamed on preparation for a key situation. Boston won the draw and flew up ice, leading to Pastrnak sliding home his second on the game and 28th on the season.

The loss puts Florida at 3-4-0 on this nine-game home stretch, their longest streak of home games this year. During this homestand, Florida has moved from third in the division, getting as high as second. Now, the Cats stand in sixth, and with every team heating up, the Panthers are treading dangerous waters.

Florida Need to Separate Themselves from the Rest. dark. Next

The Panthers return to action on Monday night against the Ottawa Senators. This will be the first of four games between the Cats and the Sens. Face-off is scheduled for 7:00 P.M.