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Florida Panthers light up Boston Bruins, take 2-1 series lead

The Florida Panthers built a four-goal lead and finished off a 6-2 win over the host Boston Bruins in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Friday.

Evan Rodrigues scored twice, Brandon Montour had a goal and an assist, while Vladimir Tarasenko, Carter Verhaeghe and Brandon Montour also scored for Florida, which took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Matthew Tkachuk had three assists, while Aleksander Barkov added two assists as the Panthers went 4-for-6 on the power play.

Sergei Bobrovsky needed to make only 14 saves in Florida’s net in an impressive defensive effort, as Boston recorded half of its 16 shots in the third period.

After the Bruins accumulated only seven shots by the halfway mark of the game, Jakub Lauko and Jake DeBrusk each scored in a 3:30 span in the third period to break up Florida’s 10-0 scoring run in the series. DeBrusk added an assist.

Prior to Florida’s dominating run of goals, no team had scored more than seven straight in this postseason.

Jeremy Swayman stopped 27 shots for the Bruins.

Boston captain Brad Marchand did not return for the third period due to an upper-body injury.

Pavel Zacha’s blind backhand pass allowed Florida to maintain offensive-zone possession and score the opening goal 8:04 into the first period. Gustav Forsling took a shot from above the left circle that Rodrigues deflected over Swayman’s shoulder from the doorstep.

Boston defenseman Mason Lohrei’s double-minor penalty for high sticking in the second period proved costly, leading to two Florida goals in exactly a minute.

Tarasenko made it 2-0 when he snapped off a wrist shot from the left circle that beat Swayman upstairs at 16:14 of the middle period. A minute later, Verhaeghe redirected Matthew Tkachuk’s centering pass over Swayman’s blocker for a 3-0 lead.

After Lauko was called for a questionable goaltender interference penalty on a net drive early in the third, Montour took advantage on the ensuing power play and ripped a top-shelf shot from the center point at 3:09 for a 4-0 lead.

A delayed penalty helped Boston get on the board at 5:01, as Lauko tucked a wrister over Bobrovsky off a DeBrusk feed to the left circle.

Lohrei sent a pass to DeBrusk for a hard shot from the left dot that brought Boston back within 4-2 at 8:31.

Reinhart’s empty-netter with 1:24 left punctuated the Florida win, and Rodrigues added on with a power-play tally inside the final minute.

Oilers 4, Canucks 3 (OT)

Evan Bouchard scored in overtime to give the visiting Edmonton Oilers a 4-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Friday that evened their Western Conference semifinal series at one win apiece.

Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid both scored once in four-point games for Edmonton. Mattias Ekholm added a goal, and Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner made 16 saves.

Building on a third period in which they outshot the Canucks by a 15-2 margin, the Oilers were rewarded when Bouchard joined a rush led by his team’s dynamic duo, took a drop pass and sent a long shot that banked into the net off the stick of Canucks defenseman Ian Cole at 5:38 of overtime.

McDavid and Draisaitl are the third-fastest players in NHL history to reach 90 career playoff points, both reaching the mark in 56 games. Their pace was eclipsed only by Wayne Gretzky (43 games) and Mario Lemieux (45 games).

Nikita Zadorov collected one goal and one assist for the Canucks, while Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser also tallied. Goalie Arturs Silovs stopped 27 shots and J.T. Miller collected two assists.

Game 3 of the best-of-seven series will be played Sunday in Edmonton.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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