The last time the Boston Bruins visited Amerant Bank Arena (then FLA Live Arena), the Florida Panthers forced a game seven with a 7-5 victory that jump-started the best playoff run in franchise history. Wednesday’s game was far less magical, as the Panthers would suffer a rare home game loss at the hands of the Bruins.
The Panthers, while boasting a 7-1 record at home coming into Wednesday, knew they’d have their hands full against a Presidents’ Trophy-defending Bruins team that was off to a 13-1-3 record to start the 2023-24 season.
After Boston held off a barrage of Panthers shots in the first 15 minutes of the game, the Bruins got on the board first when forward Charlie Coyle skated into the slot and split two Panthers defenders to get a backhand shot past Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.
The Panthers got one back midway through the second period when center Anton Lundell tapped in a rebounded puck to tie the game at 1-1.
Any momentum the Panthers created for themselves was taken away by goals from forwards John Beecher and Jake Debrusk later in the second period.
Bobrovsky stopped 22 of 25 shots and eight of 11 high-danger scoring chances.
Intensity Falls Off
The Panthers came out buzzing on Wednesday night. About 15 minutes into the first period, they were leading the Bruins in shots on goal, 15-4, and had already gotten a few high-danger scoring chances on Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark.
The Bruins held the Panthers to 12 combined shots on goal in the second and third periods, allowing just one goal to Anton Lundell.
After that Lundell goal, the closest the Panthers came to scoring again was late in the second period when forward Kevin Stenlund had the puck on his stick right in front of Ullmark, but couldn’t lift it over the goaltender’s leg pad.
“We just lost momentum when we went down 2-1,” Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad said. “And it’s tough to climb back against a team that really doesn’t give you anything up the middle in the offensive zone.”
Ullmark stopped 27 of 28 shots and seven out of eight high-danger scoring chances.
“Both goalies were really good tonight,” Panthers head coach Paul Maurice said. “And then (the Bruins) get into their power play, penalty kill starts to grind a little bit. and then they made good on two of their chances and we didn’t. That’s the game.”
— Missin Curfew (@MissinCurfew) November 23, 2023
Revenge On McAvoy
All eyes were on Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy every time he took the ice early in Wednesday’s game.
McAvoy was ejected from the Bruins’ first matchup with the Panthers on Oct. 30 for delivering an illegal hit to the head of Panthers defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The puck had left Ekman-Larsson’s stick well before McAvoy delivered the hit, leading to a subsequent four-game suspension. Ekman-Larsson left the game early.
Panthers forward Ryan Lomberg delivered the first revenge hit on McAvoy five minutes into the game while forechecking along the end boards. Forward Nick Cousins came back a few minutes later for Thanksgiving-style seconds, plastering McAvoy against the glass and bringing him to the ground.
After a brief scrum, Cousins and McAvoy served two-minute minors for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Lots Of Penalties, No PPG For FLA
The two teams each recorded 13 penalty minutes Wednesday, with 7 combined penalties coming in that first period.
The Panthers went 3-for-3 on the penalty kill, but 0-for-2 on the power play. They are now 1-for-15 on the man advantage over their last four games.
Key defensemen Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour returned to the Panthers lineup against the Anaheim Ducks on Nov. 17 after they both suffered injuries during the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
While the Panthers were eager to get their power play quarterback into the game, Aaron Ekblad back into the fray, the Cats are 1-for-10 since he and Montour returned.
“They’re not there yet,” Panthers head coach Paul Maurice said when asked about the pair returning to the power play. “It’s not in sync yet.”