Nick Goss

Game 2 takeaways: Defensive breakdowns cost Bruins in brutal 6-1 loss

The series is tied 1-1 after each team earned a lopsided victory in Florida.

NBC Universal, Inc.

The good news for the Boston Bruins is they will leave Florida with a split of the first two games in their Eastern Conference second-round series versus the Panthers.

The bad news? It's hard to feel good about the Bruins' play right now after an abysmal performance in Game 2 at Amerant Bank Arena on Wednesday night.

The Bruins used a three-goal second period in Game 1 to power them to a series-opening victory. The opposite happened in Game 2, as the Panthers scored three times in the second period. They added three more goals over the final 20 minutes to finish off a dominant 6-1 win to even the series.

The game got out of hand in the third period when these teams combined to tally 136 penalty minutes. The craziest moment was David Pastrnak fighting Matthew Tkachuk. A total of 12 players were given misconducts in the final 10 minutes of the period.

The Panthers have now won five of their last six Game 2s. They also beat the Bruins in Game 2 of their first-round series last season. The B's have lost five straight Game 2s dating back to 2021.

The series will shift to Boston for Game 3 on Friday night. But before we look ahead to that matchup, here are three takeaways from Bruins-Panthers Game 2.

Costly mistakes doom Bruins

The Panthers are hard enough to beat when you execute at a high level. When you make silly mistakes, that task becomes much harder.

The Bruins had a miscommunication on the Panthers' first goal. Florida forward Steven Lorentz was able to skate to the front of the net without any resistance and tipped a shot from the point past Jeremy Swayman.

The Panthers' second goal came after John Beecher and Charlie McAvoy both whiffed on the puck and couldn't clear the zone. McAvoy also lost his stick and wasn't able to do much defending as a result.

The third Panthers goal was scored with 0.3 seconds remaining in the second period. McAvoy and Brad Marchand screened Swayman in front of the net, making it hard for the B's netminder to locate the shot from the point.

The Bruins also took a too many men on the ice penalty in the second period. It was the fifth time they've taken that penalty in the playoffs so far, which is one more than the other 15 playoff teams combined. One too many men on the ice penalty in a playoff run is bad enough. Five is totally inexcusable.

The Panthers scored a lot of goals off turnovers, bad penalties and defensive mistakes by the Bruins in last season's first-round series, and they used the same playbook in Game 2. This is a very aggressive and opportunistic team. If you don't take care of the puck in your own zone, the Panthers will make you pay.

Special teams play a factor

The Bruins started the playoffs red-hot on the power play. They scored a power-play goal in each of their first four games against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round. They were 6-of-13 overall during that stretch. They haven't scored a goal with the man advantage since.

The Bruins are 0-for-9 on the power play over the last five games, including zero goals on five opportunities in the second round. Not only are the B's failing to score on the power play, they aren't drawing many penalties, either.

The penalty kill has been a different (and much better) story for the Bruins. They have the best PK in the playoffs. This unit is 28-for-30 (96.4 percent), including a 19-for-20 success rate on the road. The Panthers could have made the final score even more lopsided in Game 2 if they cashed in on more than one of their six power-play opportunities.

Special teams often plays a huge factor in the outcome of individual games and series as a whole. The Bruins need to figure out a way to improve their power play because they're not scoring enough at 5-on-5 to offset those struggles with the man advantage.

Will Linus Ullmark start Game 3?

Jeremy Swayman gave up more than two goals for the first time in the playoffs, but it's hard to fault him for any of the four he allowed. The Bruins had way too many breakdowns in their own zone in Game 2, making Swayman's job much more difficult than it needed to be.

Swayman faced 10 high-danger scoring chances in 41:28 of ice time. That's a pretty high number for a little more than two periods of action. Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery pulled Swayman after the Panthers increased their lead to 4-1 just 88 seconds into the third period.

Linus Ullmark made his first appearance since Game 2 of the first round and stopped eight of the 10 shots he faced.

Game 2 was Swayman's seventh consecutive start. He had never started that many games in a row during his NHL career. But it wasn't fatigue that resulted in the 25-year-old netminder giving up four goals. It was the Bruins' sloppy play around him.

Swayman has been the Bruins' best player by far in the postseason. He entered Game 2 with a league-leading .955 save percentage. There's no reason to sit him until he starts allowing bad goals consistently. Swayman gives the Bruins the best chance to win, and it would be a mistake not to go back to him for Game 3. The fact that he got a bit of a rest after being pulled from Game 2 early is a bonus.

Contact Us