BOSTON -- The Florida Panthers are not going down without a fight.
The Panthers coughed up leads of 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 in Wednesday night's Game 5 at TD Garden, but they beat the Boston Bruins in overtime on a goal from Matthew Tkachuk for a 4-3 victory. As a result, the series will go to a Game 6 on Friday night at FLA Live Arena with the B's leading 3-2.
Bruins forward Brad Marchand had a chance to win the game in the final seconds of regulation but Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made a tremendous save to force OT.
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The winning goal from Tkachuk was made possible by a bad mistake from B's goalie Linus Ullmark, who misplayed the puck behind his net and gave the Panthers an easy scoring chance.
Here are three takeaways from Bruins-Panthers Game 5.
1) B's playing with fire not ending series in Game 5
The Bruins have been in this situation before. They held a 3-1 series lead in the first round in 2013 and 2018 and couldn't close it out at home with a Game 5 win. Both of those series were against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Each series eventually went to a Game 7, and the Bruins were fortunate to win on both occasions (especially 2013).
The Panthers are an inferior team -- there's no question about it. But this squad does have legitimate talent, especially up front. They had 12 players score 10-plus goals during the regular season. They can score goals in bunches, especially when the Bruins are really sloppy with the puck -- like in Game 2 and Game 5.
An extended series not only opens the door for the Panthers to potentially pull off a major upset, it also creates more opportunities for injuries.
The Bruins are still in good shape, though. They have two chances to get one more win. And let's not forget Game 7, if needed, would be at home. But the margin for error is starting to get uncomfortably slim for the B's.
2) Home sweet home?
The Bruins were a historically dominant team on home ice this season with a league-best 34-4-3 record. The B's also led the league with a plus-71 goal differential and 72 goals allowed (the fewest by far) at home. But the Panthers, who went 0-2-0 at TD Garden in the regular season, have won two of the first three games of the series in Boston.
In fact, the Bruins didn't lose back-to-back games at home once in the regular season, but they've now done so in the playoffs with defeats in Game 2 and Game 5. The Panthers have outscored the Bruins 11-9 in the three games in Boston so far. They were outscored 12-6 in two losses at the Garden earlier this year.
The good news for the Bruins is they've played really well at FLA Live Arena in this series. Boston won Games 3 and 4 by a combined score of 10-4.
3) Sam Bennett making his presence felt
Panthers first-line center Aleksander Barkov has been mostly invisible this series offensively with zero goals. The Bruins have generated more shot attempts, shots on net and scoring chances at 5-on-5 when the Florida captain has been on the ice.
But fortunately for the Panthers, their second-line center, Sam Bennett, has made a huge impact in Round 1.
Bennett made his series debut in Game 2 after having not played since March 20 due to a lower body injury. He has scored in three of the four games he's played in, and that includes Game 5. After giving up the lead earlier in the second period, Bennett regained the advantage for the Panthers by scoring with 1:08 left in the frame.
It was a real gut punch of a goal allowed by the Bruins because they flat out dominated the second period. Boston held a 28-14 edge in shot attempts and a 15-9 advantage in scoring chances during the second period.
4) Taylor Hall is firing on all cylinders
Taylor Hall suffered a lower body injury during a Feb. 25 win against the Canucks in Vancouver and missed the next 20 games. He returned to the lineup April 8 and played in the final three regular season matchups as a tune-up for the playoffs. Those reps have proven quite valuable for Hall, who is playing his best hockey of the season in this series.
Hall leads the Bruins with five goals and eight points through five games. The former Hart Trophy winner extended his goal streak to four games by finding the back of the net at 9:16 of the third period. Hall turned and fired a perfect shot that beat Bobrovsky blocker side.
Hall's five goals are the most he's ever scored in a single playoff run. He's playing like a veteran who understands that this postseason might be his last great chance to win a Stanley Cup.
5) Bruins' power play is getting hot
The Panthers had the 25th-ranked penalty kill in the regular season. It was an area the Bruins needed to exploit, and so far they have done it. The Bruins scored twice more on the power play in Game 5.
Marchand tied the score in the second period by following up his own shot when the puck trickled through Bobrovsky's pads.
Patrice Bergeron's power-play tally tied the score 2-2 early in the third period.
Here's a game-by-game breakdown of Boston's effectiveness with the man advantage in this series:
- Game 1: 1-for-2
- Game 2: 1-for-4
- Game 3: 0-for-4
- Game 4: 2-for-4
- Game 5: 2-for-5
- Total: 6-for-19 (31.5) percent
The Bruins have the fifth-best power play in the playoffs at 31.5 percent, which is quite a bit higher than their 22.2 percent success rate in the regular season that ranked 12th.
Given the Bruins' 5-on-5 struggles in this series, it's important that their power play keeps finding the back of the net.