Taylor Hall and Jake DeBrusk each scored twice, Linus Ullmark stopped 41 shots and the Boston Bruins beat the Florida Panthers 6-2 in an Eastern Conference first-round playoff game on Sunday.
Brad Marchand and Tyler Bertuzzi also had goals for the Bruins, who took a 3-1 series lead by earning a second straight win on the Florida ice. Hall added two assists, and both of his goals came in the final 3:36, the second from an empty net.
Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Bennett scored goals for Florida, while Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 25 shots for the Panthers, who will try to avoid elimination when they visit Boston for Game 5 on Wednesday.
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Tempers flared late on, with all 11 players on the ice (Bobrovsky had been pulled) engaging in a scrum with 3:11 remaining, highlighted by Ullmark wanting to fight Tkachuk and the referees didn’t allow that to happen.
Ullmark ended up receiving a misconduct penalty, ending his day a bit early.
Hall did it with 3:36 remaining, getting behind Florida’s defense and handily beating Bobrovsky for a 5-2 lead that sent Panthers fans scrambling for possibly the last time this season.
All Boston needs to do now is avoid a three-game losing streak to reach the second round for the fifth time in the last six seasons.
The Bruins dropped three in a row just once all season, en route to the best regular-season record in NHL history: 65-12-5. Sunday’s victory was Boston’s 68th of the season; only 10 teams, including the playoffs, have won more in a single season.
DeBrusk’s two goals put Boston on top by two: the first was a power play touchdown 1:52 into the second for a 2-0 lead, the other when he simply had to slide a puck off the glove from Bobrovsky to the network. for a 4-2 lead with 11:55 remaining.
Boston improved to 39-1-1 this season when leading after the first period, 50-1-2 when leading after two periods, and 52-1-1 in games in which they led by two or more goals at any time.
Boston was 1-0 after the first 20 minutes. And about three seconds after that period ended, the Bruins found themselves on the verge of a bigger lead.
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Boston’s Garnet Hathaway was part of a scrum behind the net as time expired, and Tkachuk decided to join in as well, getting caught checking Hathaway in the process. That meant Boston would start the second period on the power play.
And DeBrusk cashed in, tipping the puck past Bobrovsky with 8 seconds left on the power play.
Marchand also hit a power-play goal to open the scoring. Bobrovsky was unable to cover the puck as he sat in the mouth of the goal and the Boston forward swept it under him and into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
Florida was playing uphill the rest of the way. Tkachuk scored in the second to make it 2-1, Bennett hit a rebound in the third on the power play to make it 3-2, but the Panthers never quite got even.
The Panthers had two notable lineup changes: Bobrovsky was on, Aaron Ekblad was off.
Alex Lyon’s streak of 11 straight games as Florida’s starting goaltender ended, with Bobrovsky getting the call there. Ekblad was listed as a game-time decision after leaving Game 3 early with an undisclosed injury; he ended up sitting out and Casey Fitzgerald played in his place.
AROUND THE TRACK
The Bruins went with the same lineup as Game 3, meaning Patrice Bergeron (expected to play Game 5) and David Krejci (not expected to play Game 5) remained out Sunday. … Ullmark stopped a shot by Florida’s Sam Bennett in the first period with the top of his helmet. … The Panthers had another change to the Game 3 lineup: Anthony Duclair was out, Zac Dalpe was in.
CHASING THE STORY
Boston is now four wins away from tying the record for most in a season, including the playoffs. The 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens, 1983-84 Edmonton Oilers, 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings and last season’s Colorado Avalanche all won 72 games.
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UNTIL NEXT TIME
Game 5 is Wednesday in Boston.