Bruins fans should be thrilled after witnessing one of the greatest regular seasons in NHL history. Boasting an outstanding regular season featuring near-60 goal scoring, Vezina-worthy goaltending, and strong defensive play, Boston appears poised for an extended playoff run.
The Bruins have earned two victories on the road without their top two centers and will look to close out this series at home with an electric atmosphere.
The Bruins grabbed an early lead against Florida in their Stanley Cup playoffs first-round series at TD Garden. David Pastrnak scored at 5:58 of the first period on a power play after Tyler Bertuzzi picked up the loose puck in their zone and sent a no-look backhand pass directly to Pastrnak, who had an open net.
At 3:41 of the second period, Brad Marchand gave the Bruins a 2-0 advantage, skating alone into Panthers defense before firing a wrist shot from above the left circle that trickled over Alex Lyon’s glove. Matthew Tkachuk cut into Boston’s lead at 6:34 when he raced onto Charlie McAvoy’s rush and lifted an intimate backhand shot over Ullmark’s blocker’s shoulder for an equalizer.
At its heart, it was a tight game through to overtime and shootout, where Boston defeated New York 5-2 and claimed first blood in their best-of-seven series at the TD Garden before an audience of more than 10,000 fans. They dominated the second period by peppering New York goaltender Ilya Sorokin with 40 shots on net that included several juicy rebound opportunities that they failed to exploit.
After falling to the Panthers on Wednesday night and losing Game 1, the Bruins looked for ways to rebound in this one, which didn’t reflect its final score. In the end, however, they found their groove and sent a clear signal that they won’t tolerate being bullied around by opponents like Florida.
No goals were scored in the first period, but it was certainly physical. Bruins defenseman Derek Forbort battled hard against Panthers forward Radko Gudas during a 2-on-1, while Tyler Bertuzzi and Trent Frederick got involved with some tussles. Things heated up again during the second period as Forbort and Panthers defenseman Ryan Lomberg both received minor penalties for roughing.
After an uneven start, the Bruins scored two quick goals to take control of the game. Sam Bennett notched his first goal since March 20, while Matthew Tkachuk added two after their forecheck caught out the Panthers. Carter Verhaeghe scored for Florida, but Brandon Carlo tied up-regulation with three seconds remaining; that set off an exciting finish and eventual Sam Reinhart scoring victory 17 ticks into overtime.
RALEIGH — With Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci absent for Game 3, their respective centers, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, being held out due to upper-body injuries during warmup, the Bruins had to lean heavily on third-line centers as well as newcomers to make plays — none did so better than Patrice Bergeron who left the ice during warmup with an upper-body issue and later left during warmup with an injury of her own. But those players did not disappoint them in making plays either; neither did any young players make mistakes of any significance when taking to the ice against Toronto or Boston, respectively, in Game 3.
Coyle, running for captain of the Bruins, provided Boston with a standout performance on both ends of the ice, including a fantastic deflection off Aleksander Barkov’s shot six minutes into the second period, giving Boston a 2-0 edge.
Boston would likely struggle to play without two-star forwards, yet still looked impressive without them. Tyler Bertuzzi scored on a power play shot just 55 seconds into the third period to bring them within one goal of leveling out their series at 2-2.
Florida’s defense was then able to turn over the puck at critical moments and create chances for themselves – which ultimately resulted in Carter Verhaeghe scoring an insurance goal on a wrist shot that sneaked under Tuukka Rask and gave Florida their three-game lead back.
With Zdeno Chara sidelined due to an upper-body injury and Boston’s second line a complete disaster, the Bruins’ third pair was essential in keeping their game going – and it certainly succeeded, with Charlie McAvoy continuing his dominance of physical play while Dmitry Orlov notching two assists.
Beginning quietly, the Bruins started strong as their offense and defense kept Florida at bay. Midway through the period, Taylor Hall took advantage of a feed from Brandon Montour to enter the zone behind a screen from Charlie Coyle and flick one glove-side past Alex Lyon for their first goal of the night.
Once again, Boston led by two goals after the second period. They extended that lead early in the third with Brad Marchand’s power-play goal, giving themselves an insurmountable lead against St Louis Blues. But then things became exciting!
Ryan O’Reilly managed to corral the puck from a scrum in front of Rask and shoot it back in. At 3-1 Blues and less than nine minutes away from tying up their series with Boston, overtime ensued – where both teams took an unpredictable turn. Boston did have one timeout available with 18.2 seconds remaining but instead chose not to utilize it to slow the clock, an error which ultimately proved costly as they conceded a point and fell further behind in their series versus Missouri.
The Celtics managed to stay close in Game 5 thanks to Marcus Smart, who hit two three-pointers and stole away Draymond Green. Unfortunately, Boston committed 18 turnovers – more than enough for an outright defeat that put Boston into an uphill battle for Game 7.
Assuming the series moves back to TD Garden, victory by the Celtics would give them a shot at becoming just the third team ever to recover after trailing three games to zero in an NBA Finals series. But doing so requires their hard work and more energy than they displayed Tuesday.
The Warriors’ stifling defense made it difficult for Boston to establish any rhythm, leaving their at-rim attacks from Andrew Wiggins unchecked by any solid defensive presence to keep pace. Draymond Green has been an invaluable contributor for the Warriors thus far; his maneuvering around Robert Williams and Al Horford allows him to finish at the rim, a feat made easier due to Draymond Green being such a versatile X-factor this series. However, Boston can employ different strategies to prevent him from getting open looks, thus giving their best players more chances at making up ground on Draymond Green by stopping his at-rim attacks from getting underway.
As they headed into Game 6, both series were tied at 2-2, and it appeared like the Celtics, the No. 6 seed, would win easily; unfortunately, they lost, and it proved that you need to force a Game 7 to win it.
Derrick White played an essential part in Boston’s loss this time, scoring their last two points on a fantastic putback and tip-in that will have fans talking for weeks. Yet, they must also consider several other factors while watching this game.
First and foremost, officials put three seconds back onto the clock on the call that Jimmy Butler was fouled in the final seconds of regulation – this decision proved essential as had it not occurred, White’s shot would have been counted as a 3-pointer rather than a 2-pointer.
Also important is remembering that Boston won this game without Vince Carter, who missed due to a hip injury. Although Carter may return for Game 7, that won’t compensate for their poor choke job in Game 6.
Game 7s represent the final match in a best-of-seven series, and its victor will advance to the next round. Game 7s typically feature low scoring for various reasons – One is that tension during such matches tends to limit early and late parts of each match-up, limiting scoring opportunities during these points of competition.
Boston trailed 2-0 after one period and 3-2 after Travis Dermott scored on an incredible wrist shot past Tuukka Rask to extend their deficit further. Boston rallied but never managed to reclaim their advantage.
During overtime, Carter Verhaeghe scored on an intricate wrist shot to secure Florida a victory and eliminate Boston from contention for this year’s playoffs. They will next take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Boston Celtics’ three straight losses to Miami were seen as an automatic elimination from NBA playoffs (no team has won after trailing three consecutively), but they managed to get back home for Game 5. Now, there is some hope they may force Game 7, although that requires a miracle for it to come true.