Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

May 12, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Florida Panthers center Evan Rodrigues (17) reacts with defenseman Aaron Ekblad (5) after a goal during the second period in game four of the second round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

It’s back-against-the-wall time for the Boston Bruins.

After jumping out to an early 2-0 lead, the Bruins surrendered three unanswered goals to the Florida Panthers over the final two periods to drop Game 4 of their best-of-seven playoff series by a 3-2 final. The Panthers now have a 3-1 lead with a chance to eliminate the Bruins in Game 5 on Tuesday night at Amerant Bank Arena.

The Bruins got about the best start they could’ve hoped for in the first period, considering the circumstances. Defenseman Charlie McAvoy set an early physical tone and ignited the TD Garden crowd just 14 seconds into the game with a thunderous open-ice hit on the Panthers’ Sam Reinhart:

Florida out-shot Boston 15-5 in the opening period, continuing a series-long trend. But this time, it was the Bruins who actually cashed in. First, David Pastrnak opened the scoring with a rocket of a one-timer from the faceoff circle during a power play:

  • Later in the period, defenseman Brandon Carlo made it 2-0 by simply putting the puck on net. His wobbly flip from the point found its way through traffic and by Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to double the Bruins’ lead:

  • The Bruins also seemed willing to mix it up physically with the Panthers, who didn’t seem as willing to engage. Even Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman got into it with the Panthers’ Matthew Tkachuk.

  • The B’s escaped the first period with the lead, despite the shot totals. It wasn’t until well into the second period that the Panthers finally found the back of the net, off the stick of Anton Lundell with a quick one-timer from the faceoff circle. The Bruins were able to get out of the second period clinging to the one-goal lead.

  • Early in the third period, disaster struck for the Bruins, and in the worst possible way. Public enemy No. 1, Sam Bennett, scored the game-tying goal on a Panthers power play. The B’s challenged for goaltender interference, and even though Bennett appeared to crosscheck the Bruins’ Charlie Coyle into Swayman, the officials ruled that no interference took place, keeping it 2-2 and putting the Bruins on another penalty kill.

  • The B’s were able to kill off the ensuing delay of game penalty, but the Panthers were able to pull ahead anyway. Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov carried the puck into the zone himself and split the defense on his way to his fifth goal of the playoffs to give his team the 3-2 advantage.

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