Nick Goss

McAvoy delivers clutch performance in Bruins' Game 5 win vs. Panthers

McAvoy stepped up when the Bruins needed him most in Game 5.

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It sounds simple, but to win in the Stanley Cup Playoffs you need your best players to be your best players on a consistent basis.

Charlie McAvoy is one of the Boston Bruins' best players, but he hasn't looked like it for much of the postseason. But make no mistake, he stepped up big time with the team's season on the line in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference second-round series versus the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.

McAvoy made a positive impact at both ends of the ice but was especially strong offensively as the Bruins secured a 2-1 victory to extend the series to a Game 6 on Friday night.

After not tallying a point since Game 4 of the first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, McAvoy finally broke the drought with an assist on Morgan Geekie's first-period goal that put the Bruins up 1-0.

Instead of just firing the puck on net and hoping for a juicy rebound, McAvoy dumped it behind the net, allowing Jake DeBrusk to maintain possession and set up Geekie for a scoring chance.

The Panthers tied the score and regained the momentum when Sam Reinhart beat Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman at 6:23 of the second period.

The B's responded just four minutes later when McAvoy jumped into the play and beat Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky for his first playoff goal since Game 1 of the 2021 second-round series versus the New York Islanders.

"He's extremely competitive," Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery said of McAvoy postgame. "He's kinda quiet, doesn't say much. But you could see him talking a lot on the bench. His play was instrumental in our victory, and I think the goal for him is huge."

McAvoy entered Game 5 with zero points and zero shots on net in the series. His 19 giveaways through 11 games were the most of any player in the postseason. We saw dramatic improvement from McAvoy in all three areas Tuesday.

The veteran defenseman tallied two points, blocked four shots, dished out three hits and led the team with six shots in 23:26 of ice time. He also committed zero turnovers.

โ€œI've been trying, certainly,โ€ McAvoy told reporters postgame. โ€œCertainly taking shots, but just haven't seen them be able to get to the net. You never lose confidence. It's the playoffs. It's up and down, it's emotional, and every day is a new day. That's all we're given. I've been trying to just keep the same mindset.

โ€œI'm grateful for these opportunities and the guys that I get to go to war with. I want to be my best and do the best that I can. Tonight it was just good to see them get on net and see them create some opportunities for our team. It's up and downs. You just have to stay even keel.โ€

McAvoy was a beast defensively, too. He helped clear the defensive zone five times in the final three minutes of the game when the Panthers had the goalie pulled for the extra attacker. McAvoy was winning puck battles, blocking shots and erasing the danger as Florida frantically tried to force overtime.

The Bruins had a 11-9 edge in shots, a 10-8 advantage in scoring chances and a 7-3 lead in high-danger chances during McAvoy's 15:07 of 5-on-5 ice time, per Natural Stat Trick.

It was the type of stellar all-around performance that we've come to expect from McAvoy, who has ranked among the league's top 10 defensemen for a couple years now.

The Bruins will need a couple more of these efforts from McAvoy if they're going to keep this series alive with another win in Game 6 at TD Garden on Friday night.

"Never say die. We're going home and the series is wide open," McAvoy said. "Let's go home and win a hockey game."

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