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Bruins blown out by Panthers in Game 2, 6-1
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Bruins blown out by Panthers in Game 2, 6-1

SUNRISE, Fla.–Well, you didn’t think this was going to be easy, did you?

After the Bruins took Game 1 in this second round series, the Florida Panthers bit back hard on Wednesday night, riding a dominant second period to a 6-1 victory to even the series at 1-1, chasing goalie Jeremy Swayman in the process.

In case anyone forgot, the Panthers are a very good hockey team that gave the Bruins something to think about as the series shifts to Boston for Games 3 and 4 on Friday and Sunday. And there were buckets of bad blood spilled all Amerant Bank Arena in the third period after the game was decided.

The B’s started off well and took the first lead in the first period, but they squandered several great scoring chances before Florida got its forechecking game going in the decisive second.

It didn’t take long for the Panthers to reveal their strategy, and it looked like it might work. Just 17 seconds into the first period, Matthew Tkachuk took a poke at Jeremy Swayman, drawing a response from Brandon Carlo and Justin Brazeau. When Tkachuk persisted, Brazeau grabbed him up high and the helmet came off, sending the Bruin to the box.

But thanks to one great save on Carter Verhaeghe and some more good PK work they survived it. Then Brad Marchand was tripped at the end of the Florida PP and the B’s got an advantage. Marchand missed an open net on a bad angle shot on the PP, but did not miss on a green light hit on Tkachuk, absolutely blasting him on a shorthanded bid.

After the B’s killed their second penalty – and 25th of 26 in the playoffs – the B’s took the first lead of the game at 12:12 when Florida turned over the puck high and their zone and the B’s immediately went on the attack. Marchand got a pass through a sliding Niko Mikkola to Pavel Zacha, who in turn tapped it back to Charlie Coyle. Coyle finished off the pretty play, burying his first goal of the playoffs from the left side of the net.

The B’s had chances to take a bigger lead than that in the first.. Coyle surprised Sergei Bobrovsky with a long-range shot that beat the goalie but hit the shortside post. And then John Beecher missed a wide-open net when the rebound of a Brazeau shot on a 2-on-1.

Simply put, the B’s let the Panthers off the hook.

Those missed opportunities looked huge when the Panthers tied it up at 1:56 of the second period with a fourth line goal. Parker Wotherspoon’s clearing attempt was stopped at the blue line by Brandon Montour. The defenseman flipped the puck toward the net and Steve Lorentz – left alone by Derek Forbort, who appeared to be anticipating a reverse pass by Wotherspoon – deflected it past Swayman to even it up.

The Panthers’ forecheck then gave them their first lead of the game at 9:49. Charlie McAvoy was checked off the puck on a breakout attempt — and he lost his stick on the play to boot. Florida moved the puck around until Sam Reinhart took a shot that Swayman stopped but couldn’t control the rebound. With the stickless McAvoy unable to play the puck, Sasha Barkov tapped home the rebound for the 2-1 lead.

McAvoy would make a couple of trips to the dressing room after that but returned to finish the period.

After a squandered power play and two more kills (including one of the B’s fifth too-many-men penalty), it looked like the B’s would escape just a one-goal deficit when disaster struck. With 11 seconds left in the period, the B’s won a faceoff in their zone and it looked like they’d be heading to the break down a goal.

But Marchand’s bank clear attempt was gloved down by Montour and, with two seconds left in the period, Gustav Forsling blasted a point slap shot past Swayman with a crushing goal.

And when Eetu Luostarinen scored at 1:58 of the third off a waved off icing and a turnover, coach Jim Montgomery had seen enough. He pulled Swayman for Linus Ullmark, most likely to give a blow to the netminder, who was starting his seventh straight game.

The rest of the game was some attempted message-sending by both teams, which led to a Barkov power-play goal after Pat Maroon took a minor and a misconduct in a running tiff with Nick Cousins.

Then Montour scored a shorthanded goal and celebrated in Marchand’s face, setting off another round of wrestling matches.

In a final insult, with both Maroon and Trent Frederic safely tucked away in the dressing room, Tkachuk dropped the gloves with David Pastrnak and took three cheap shots with Pastrnak when he was down.

No, these two teams don’t like each other. And we’ve got ourselves an old school playoff series.