The Boston Bruins’ regular season came to a close with a loss Sunday night.
Playing in the final game of the NHL regular season — a make-up contest from the snowed-out game on Jan. 4 — Boston fell to the Florida Panthers 4-2 at TD Garden.
With the loss, the Bruins will finish second in the Eastern Conference and will take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Florida controlled the tempo most of the game, going ahead 3-1 through two periods. The Bruins came alive midway through the third, but their comeback effort fell short.
Tuukka Rask made 22 saves for the Bruins, while Panthers netminder James Reimer turned away 33 shots. Roberto Luongo took over in net with 8:07 left in the game after Reimer left with an injury and made eight saves.
The Bruins fall to 50-20-12 with the loss, while the Panthers climb to 44-30-8.
Here’s how it all went down.
Florida got on the board first after Matt Grzelyck had the puck knocked away from him by Frank Vatrano. The ex-Bruin tipped the puck to Henrik Borgstrom as he entered the offensive zone, and the rookie wristed home his first career NHL goal at 1:22.
The Bruins managed to equalize at 8:18. Kevan Miller slapped a shot from the point, which was blocked in front of the net. David Krejci did a good job of chasing the puck down and slinging it back up to Miller.
The blueliner ripped it again, and the second time it was met in front of the net by David Backes, who overpowered Borgstrom and snuck it past Reimer as he fell to the ice.
Late in the period, however, poor puck control by the Bruins resulted in another goal for the Panthers. Boston struggled to get the puck out of its own zone, and Florida made them pay.
Jamie McGinn battled — and got — the puck along the boards and swept it up to the point. Jared McCann received it and quickly dished it over to Vatrano in the high slot. The 23-year-old then finished a one-timer past Rask.
CATS EXTEND LEAD
The Panthers scored the lone goal of the second period, capitalizing again on the Bruins’ inability to get the puck out of their own zone. Zdeno Chara tried to flip the puck up and out to safety, but it was gloved down near the blue line by Keith Yandle, and Florida maintained possession.
Yandle worked the puck over to Denis Malgin, who whipped a pass across the ice to Maxim Mamin. The winger wristed it right underneath Rask’s pad.
COMEBACK FALLS SHORT
The Bruins weren’t playing their best brand of hockey in the first 40 minutes, but they caught a break at 8:22 when Jonathan Huberdeau was given a four-minute double minor penalty for high-sticking Chara.
Just over 90 seconds into the advantage, the Bruins cashed in and climbed within one. Ryan Donato got the puck behind the net and dished it to Patrice Bergeron right on the doorstep. The center sent it cross-ice to Pastrnak, who sniped it past Reimer.
The goal clearly energized both the Bruins and the TD Garden crowd. But with the momentum seemingly all on Boston’s side, Evgenii Dadonov put it to a screeching halt with just over two minutes to play. Dadonov backhanded his 28th goal of the season right past Rask to put the Panthers up 4-2.
The Bruins will take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 1 of their first-round series Thursday. Puck drop from TD Garden is set for 7 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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