BOSTON -- The Florida Panthers outplayed the Boston Bruins for large stretches in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series Monday night but couldn't bury their scoring chances in a 3-1 loss.
The script was flipped Wednesday night in Game 2 as the opportunistic Panthers scored at will in the third period and evened the series with an emphatic 6-3 victory at TD Garden.
It's just the fifth time all season that the Bruins have been defeated at home in regulation. The Panthers have also become the only team to beat the Bruins three times in 2022-23.
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Game 3 of the series is scheduled for Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET in Florida. But before we look ahead to that pivotal matchup, here are four takeaways from Bruins-Panthers Game 2.
1) Sloppy puck management burns Bruins
The Panthers played really well in Game 2 and fully deserved to win, but the Bruins also handed them a couple of goals with some horrendous puck management.
The B's coughed up the puck way too often -- 15 giveaways in total -- and the Panthers made them pay.
Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo couldn't clear the zone early in the second period and Sam Bennett scored in his first game since March 20 to put Florida up 1-0.
A Charlie McAvoy turnover early in the third period helped set up Carter Verhaeghe's first goal of the series, which put Florida up 4-2.
The Panthers are a fast, highly skilled team that loves to create scoring chances off the rush. Giving them the puck with bad turnovers, which the Bruins did all Wednesday night, activates that transition game.
2) Rare third-period meltdown for Bruins
The Bruins dominated the third period all season. They ranked No. 1 in both third period goals scored (113) and third period goals allowed (59). The third period was their best 20 minutes of Game 1 when they shut down the Panthers with excellent defensive hockey and strong goaltending from Linus Ullmark.
The third period of Game 2 was the complete opposite for Boston.
The Bruins were outscored 4-1 in the period, and two of those Panthers goals came in the first seven minutes. Panthers defenseman Brandon Mountour gave Florida the lead for good when his blast from the point beat Ullmark just 22 seconds into the frame.
In addition to dominating the Bruins on the scoreboard in the third period, they also held a 11-6 advantage in shot attempts and a 7-5 lead in scoring chances at 5-on-5 over the final 20 minutes.
3) Brad Marchand has found his groove again
Brad Marchand entered the 2023 playoffs with only one goal in his final 18 regular season games. In fact, he had a 16-game goalless drought until finally finding the back of the net in an April 11 win over the Washington Capitals.
One of the biggest questions for the Bruins coming into this series was whether Marchand could rediscover his scoring touch. He has, and it's come at the perfect time for the B's.
His goal in the second period of Game 1 proved to be the winning tally, and he scored his second goal of the series in the second period of Game 2.
It was a much-needed goal for the Bruins, who had generated very little offensively (just three high-danger chances at 5-on-5) to that point in the game. The goal actually came shorthanded, his first in the postseason in 12 years.
Marchand was all alone with Panthers goalie Alex Lyon and beat him glove side.
Marchand now has six goals and seven assists in his last nine playoff games dating back to last season's first-round series versus the Carolina Hurricanes.
He also showed great restraint in Game 2. The Panthers tried to get him to retaliate all night and he didn't take the bait once. Marchand was tackled twice and cross checked on one shift in the first period by Panthers defenseman Radko Gudas and didn't let it get under his skin. Marchand also drew a penalty later in the period.
Marchand playing physical but not taking bad penalties, and also finding his scoring groove again are all very encouraging signs for the Bruins.
4) Special teams advantage for Bruins
The Bruins had a special teams edge entering this series, and that has played out through two games.
Boston's penalty kill ranked No. 1 in the regular season with a 87.1 percent success rate, and that unit is a perfect 4-for-4 in two games, including a 2-for-2 showing Wednesday night.
The Bruins' power play has had a few rough moments in this series, but you can't argue with the results. David Pastrnak scored a power-play goal early in Game 1 off a tremendous backhand pass by Tyler Bertuzzi. In Game 2 it was Bertuzzi who scored on the power play. He deflected a puck past Panthers netminder Alex Lyon and into the net to tie the score 2-2 late in the second period. It was his first career playoff goal.
The Panthers had the 25th-ranked power play during the regular season, so this is one area the Bruins can keep exploiting throughout the series.