The Boston Bruins lost 4-2 to the Florida Panthers on Thursday night, which drops the Original Six club outside the Eastern Conference playoff picture with one game left in the regular season.
The two teams were tied 1-1 going into the second intermission, but the Panthers controlled play in the third period and capitalized on their scoring chances with three goals on nine shots.
The Bruins return to game action Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Here are three takeaways from Bruins-Panthers.
1. Much Better Start For Bruins
The Bruins dictated the pace of play and spent large portions of the first period in the attacking zone, which was a huge improvement from Wednesday’s opening 20 minutes when the Washington Capitals scored twice and dominated possession. Boston fired nearly 20 shots toward Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo in the first eight minutes.
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The highlight of the first period was an early Boston power play during which the team attempted eight shots and spent nearly the entire two minutes in the offensive zone.
Overall, Boston led 26-17 in shot attempts and 12-7 in shots on goal in the period. The B’s didn’t score, but they played with the type of pace, execution and determination needed to finish the regular season strongly.
2. Boston, Florida Exchange Power-Play Goals In Second Period
The Bruins snapped a goal drought of nearly 140 minutes when Patrice Bergeron scored a power-play tally at 15:02. The play started with a faceoff win by Bergeron and he eventually moved to the slot, where his initial shot was saved by Luongo. The B’s center continued to the net and eventually scored on a rebound with a backhand shot from a tough angle.
It was Bergeron’s team-leading 23rd goal of the season. Before the goal, Boston had been in a 1-for-16 slump with the man advantage.
It didn’t take Florida long to respond. Aleksander Barkov scored a power-play goal with 1:20 remaining in the period.
3. Bruins Fall Out of Playoff Picture
The Bruins no longer control their own destiny in the playoff race and will need help from Ottawa Senators or Pittsburgh Penguins losses over the next two days, in addition to winning Saturday’s regular-season finale against the Tampa Bay Lightning, to secure a postseason berth.
The Senators defeated the New York Rangers 3-0 on Thursday night to move ahead of the Bruins and idle Penguins into the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Detroit Red Wings and New York Islanders also clinched playoff berths Thursday.
Here’s a look at the wild-card race entering Friday, April 10:
Senators: 81 GP, 97 PTS, 36 ROW (at Flyers)
Penguins: 80 GP, 96 PTS, 38 ROW (vs. Islanders, at Sabres)
Bruins: 81 GP, 95 PTS, 37 ROW (at Lightning)
Thumbnail photo via Robert Mayer/USA TODAY Sports Images