Nick Goss

Game 3 takeaways: Disastrous special teams cost Bruins in 6-2 loss

The Bruins' penalty kill gave its worst performance of the season in Game 3.

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BOSTON -- The Florida Panthers seem to love playing at TD Garden.

After beating the Bruins in Boston three out of four times during last season's first-round playoff series, they earned another victory at the Garden in Friday night's Game 3 of the Eastern Conference second round.

The Panthers led 1-0 entering the first intermission, then took full control of the game in the second period after scoring twice on a four-minute power play. Florida eventually increased its lead to 4-0 and won 6-2 to take a 2-1 series lead.

Not only did the Bruins lose, they also had to play without their captain Brad Marchand for the final 20 minutes. The B's announced at the beginning of the third period that Marchand was "unlikely" to return due to an upper body injury.

Game 4 of the series is Sunday at TD Garden. But before we look ahead to that matchup, here are three takeaways from Bruins-Panthers Game 4.

Another awful start hurts Bruins

The Bruins' sloppy play in their own zone cost them again in the first period of Game 3. Right after taking the first penalty of the game, Zacha made a blind backhand pass to the middle of the ice in the Bruins' zone and the Panthers quickly regained possession. Gustav Forsling's shot from the point hit some traffic in front of the net, and Evan Rodrigues batted the loose puck past Jeremy Swayman to give Florida a 1-0 lead.

Turnovers have been a huge problem for the Bruins in this series. At least three of them have directly led to Panthers goals. There's no reason for Zacha to make a no-look pass in that situation. He has to be smarter there.

The ice was tilted in the Panthers' favor the whole first period, evidenced by the stats below:

  • Shot attempts: 26-10 Panthers (19-10 at 5-on-5)
  • Shots on net: 13-3 Panthers (9-3 at 5-on-5)
  • Scoring chances: 13-3 (8-3 at 5-on-5)
  • Penalties: 2-0 Bruins
  • Goals: 1-0 (1-0 at 5-on-5)

Special teams costs Bruins

The Bruins were red-hot on the power play to begin the playoffs, scoring six times in 13 opportunities over the first four games of the first round versus the Maple Leafs. That unit has been ice cold ever since.

Boston is 0-for-11 with the man advantage over the last six games, including zero goals in seven opportunities in the second round. The Bruins went 0-for-2 with five shots in Game 3.

A great power play is not required for a deep playoff run, but the Bruins are not generating enough offense during 5-on-5 action to make up for their struggles with the man advantage.

The turning point in the game happened late in the second period. The Bruins finally started to put some pressure on the Panthers with an extended period of offensive-zone time. The B's had a couple really good scoring chances, and even though they failed to cash in, it did get the crowd fired up and the team appeared to be playing with a little more juice. All that momentum came to a screeching halt about a minute later when Mason Lohrei took a double-minor penalty for high sticking.

The Bruins penalty kill let up two goals, allowing the Panthers to take a commanding 3-0 lead into the second intermission.

Vladimir Tarasenko scored the first power-play goal for the Panthers.

Matthew Tkachuk found Carter Verhaeghe in front of the net for Florida's second power-play goal just 60 seconds later.

The Panthers added another power-play goal by Brandon Montour at 3:09 of the third period, increasing their lead to 4-0. Evan Rodrigues scored the Panthers' fourth power-play goal with 51 seconds left in regulation. Florida finished 4-for-6 on the power play.

The Bruins had been 10-for-11 on the penalty kill in the series before that Lohrei double-minor. Special teams often play a huge role in the outcome of playoff games, and they certainly did Friday.

Bruins need more scoring from top-six forwards

The Bruins haven't been able to generate much offense for a while, dating back to Game 5 of their first-round series against the Leafs.

Boston has scored an average of two goals over the last six games, and that number is boosted by their 5-1 victory in Game 1 of this series. The B's have scored two goals or fewer in four of their last five matchups, including Games 1 and 3 in the second round. This lack of scoring won't be enough to beat a high-powered Panthers team that has scored three goals or more in all but one of its eight playoff games.

Several of the Bruins' top-six forwards have been noticeably absent in Round 2. David Pastrnak, Pavel Zacha and Brad Marchand do not have a goal through three games. Jake DeBrusk has two goals -- one at 5-on-5 in Game 3 and an empty-net tally in Game 1.

Charlie McAvoy and Hampus Lindholm are two offensively gifted defensemen, but neither player has tallied a single point in the second round. McAvoy had a couple rough sequences with the puck in Game 3. He still leads the playoffs with 16 giveaways.

The Bruins are getting decent scoring production from their bottom six in this series. Justin Brazeau scored in Game 1 and Jakub Lauko found the back of the net in Game 3. But it's hard to see how the Bruins win this series if their top-six forwards continue to be outplayed by the Panthers' top two lines by a wide margin.

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