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Panthers win in Boston, put Bruins on brink of playoff elimination

The Florida Panthers scored twice in the third period to cap a comeback from a two-goal deficit, giving them a 3-2 win over the host Boston Bruins on Sunday in Game 4 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Anton Lundell posted a goal and an assist while Sam Bennett and Aleksander Barkov both scored in the final frame to lift the Panthers to a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Evan Rodrigues dished out a pair of assists for Florida.

The Panthers, who posted the fifth multi-goal comeback win in their postseason history, have an opportunity to clinch the series on Tuesday in Game 5 in Sunrise, Florida.

‘Sometimes you don’t get the breaks around the net,’ Florida coach Paul Maurice said. ‘They were up two, but our game was right. Mentally, it’s very important that we would stay with it and we wouldn’t see a change in our game.’

Sergei Bobrovsky made 16 saves in Florida’s net.

David Pastrnak and Brandon Carlo scored Boston’s goals, and Jeremy Swayman stopped 38 shots.

The Panthers had a 41-18 edge in shots and went 1-for-6 on the power play.

Bennett tied the game at 3:41 of the third when a bouncing puck came to him at the left crease for a tap-in on the power play. Bennett appeared to cross-check Charlie Coyle into Swayman to create the open lane to the goal, but Boston’s challenge for goaltender interference was unsuccessful.

‘This is a tough building to play in, but we just stuck with it,’ Bobrovsky said. ‘In the first period, even though they had two goals, we liked our chances and we just kept going, kept pushing and getting better.’

The Bruins now must do something they’ve never before accomplished in their long history in the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs: overcome a 3-1 series deficit in a best-of-seven series.

The score flipped Florida’s way for the first time at 7:31, as Barkov slipped down the slot after corralling a deflected puck at center ice and beat Swayman over his blocker.

Two Boston power plays went by the boards after Florida’s go-ahead goal, including a six-on-four with Swayman pulled following an Aaron Ekblad interference call in the final minute.

Boston led 2-0 after one period despite being outshot 15-5.

After Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy set the physical tone with a heavy hit on Sam Reinhart just 15 seconds into the game, Swayman made key stops throughout the opening five-plus minutes, including one on Vladimir Tarasenko’s attempt to sneak the puck past his far pad.

Boston wasted little time converting on its first power play, scoring at the 8:53 mark of the first, only eight seconds into a man-advantage opportunity stemming from an Ekblad interference call. Pastrnak took a Jake DeBrusk feed to the right circle and stepped into a one-timer that beat Bobrovsky to his blocker side.

‘(Bobrovsky) won’t like the second goal, but everything after the second period was world-class,’ Maurice said.

Carlo doubled the Bruins’ lead at 15:12, corralling a bouncing puck at the center point and firing it through traffic for his third goal of the postseason.

Lundell put Florida on the board with 5:12 left before the second intermission, taking a Rodrigues pass out of the corner and slipping a quick shot from the left circle over Swayman’s shoulder.

‘I think we missed four odd-man rushes in the second that could have really extended our lead,’ Bruins coach Jim Mongomery said.

Facing a 3-1 series deficit, the Bruins now hope to turn the tables on the Panthers, who rallied from the same deficit against the top-seeded Bruins in the first round of last season’s Stanley Cup playoffs.

‘My mind isn’t on (moving forward) right now,’ Montgomery said. ‘It’s a tough loss and we’ll start looking at ways to improve again tomorrow.’

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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