Nick Goss

Game 6 takeaways: Bruins' season ends in heartbreaking loss vs. Panthers

The Bruins lost at home for the third time in the series.

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BOSTON -- The Florida Panthers have done it again. For the second straight year, they have knocked the Boston Bruins out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden.

Last season it was a shocking first-round upset in Game 7. This year it was a 2-1 Game 6 victory in the second round.

The Bruins had a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period for the fourth time in six games, but like they had done numerous times in the series, the Panthers dominated for large stretches of the second and third periods. 

Panthers center Anton Lundell tied the score at one in the second period, and defenseman Gustav Forsling scored what proved to be the series winner with just 1:33 left in the third period. 

The Panthers were the better team over the course of six games, but the Bruins did have plenty of chances to score in this series and too often failed to capitalize. In Game 6, for example, the Bruins generated 16 high-danger scoring chances and beat Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky only one time. Boston scored two or fewer goals in each of the last five games.

The Bruins will soon begin a pivotal offseason for the franchise. The Panthers will advance to play the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final. 

Here are three takeaways from Bruins-Panthers Game 6 on Friday night.

Panthers dominate last two periods again

The Panthers outscored the Bruins 2-0 over the final 40 minutes of the game with one goal in the second period and another in the third period. 

They also tilted the ice in their favor for most of that stretch, earning a 49-37 edge in shot attempts, a 20-16 advantage in shots and a 20-16 lead in scoring chances. The Panthers played with desperation and spent large amounts of time in the Bruins' zone. 

This level of dominance after the first period was a common theme for the Panthers in the series. They outscored the Bruins 17-3 over the final two periods in the last five games combined. 

The Panthers consistently withstood the Bruins' early onslaught, settled down and found their groove as the game wore on. Florida gave more complete 60-minute efforts than Boston over the course of the series, and that's why the Atlantic Division winners are going to the East Final. 

No home ice advantage

Playing at home is supposed to be an advantage for teams, but for the Bruins, it's actually been a disadvantage over the last two postseasons.

The Panthers have now won six consecutive playoff games at TD Garden dating back to last year's first-round series.

  • Game 2, 2023: 6-3 Panthers
  • Game 5, 2023: 4-3 Panthers (OT)
  • Game 7, 2023: 4-3 Panthers (OT)
  • Game 3, 2024: 6-2 Panthers
  • Game 4, 2024: 3-2 Panthers
  • Game 6, 2024: 2-1 Panthers

The Bruins didn't fare well in pretty much every facet of the game at home in this series:

  • Goals scored: Five
  • Goals against: 11
  • Power-play: 12.5 percent
  • Penalty kill: 66.7 percent
  • Shots: 19.3 per game
  • Faceoffs: 52.9 percent

Overall, the Bruins have lost eight of their last 11 games at home over the last two playoff runs. The only victories during that span came against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round a few weeks ago.

The Bruins have been a very good home team in the regular season over the last few years, but for whatever reason, playing at the Garden has not led to much success come playoff time.

Bruins' season a success, despite frustrating end

The Bruins were not expected to make much noise in the regular season or playoffs this year. Most experts predicted the B's would be a wild card team and likely not win a round in the postseason.

It was hard to be too bullish on the Bruins back in October after they lost so many key players in the offseason, most notably their top-six centers Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, in addition to veterans like Taylor Hall, Tyler Bertuzzi and Dmitry Orlov, among others. Overall, they lost about a third of their offense -- 102 of the 301 goals they scored last season -- due to last summer's departures.

But general manager Don Sweeney and head coach Jim Montgomery deserve a ton of credit. They were able to get as much out of this team as could be expected, including a first-round series triumph and taking the defending Eastern Conference champs to six games. This Bruins' roster was the worst of the eight teams that played in Round 2, and yet they were still pretty competitive.

David Pastrnak had another 40-goal and 100-point season. Trent Frederic, Pavel Zacha and Charlie Coyle all set career highs in scoring during the regular season. Jake DeBrusk had another impressive playoff run with a team-leading 11 points (five goals, six assists) in 13 games. Jeremy Swayman established himself as the undisputed No. 1 goalie for the franchise moving forward. He was the league's top postseason goalie with a .933 save percentage. Young players such as Matthew Poitras, Mason Lohrei and John Beecher made a positive impact, too.

And unlike last summer, the Bruins have a lot of salary cap space -- currently around $21 million, per CapFriendly -- to make roster upgrades in the coming months.

The end of this series was frustrating if you're a Bruins fan, but the season as a whole was absolutely a success. 

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