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BOSTON – The Boston Bruins know one thing: This series isn’t over. 

Even though the Bruins have dropped three straight games to the Florida Panthers, even though the Panthers now lead the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Second Round by a 3-1 margin, even though the Bruins lost two consecutive games at home at TD Garden, including the 3-2 defeat on Sunday in Game 4, the series isn’t done. They haven’t been eliminated. 

That’s all that matters now. 

“This is playoff hockey,” goalie Jeremy Swayman said. “We’d better believe in this reality. The reality is that we’re going to go to Florida, we’re going to play the same game, and we’re going to get it done. I have no doubt in this group.”

They know it can happen. The Bruins watched the Panthers storm back from a 3-1 deficit in the first round against them last season and win the series in seven games. They watched the Toronto Maple Leafs take Games 5 and 6 against them in the first round of these playoffs after they went up 3-1. 

Why can’t they do it too?

“We have a lot of confidence and a lot of motivation to bring it back to Boston because our fans deserve a lot better, and we’re excited to do that,” Swayman continued. 

He wasn’t alone. 

So: Where do the Bruins go from here?

“Tomorrow,” Charlie Coyle said. “Whatever tomorrow calls for. Skate, not skate. Get prepared. Recovering. And then we prepare for that next game. It’s always that next game mentality. Series is not over until someone gets the four games, right? No one’s done that yet.”

The Bruins had felt good about their play in Game 4, a game that started with a tone-setting hit by Charlie McAvoy on Sam Reinhart on the opening shift and continued with the team storming out to a two-goal lead. 

The first came from David Pastrnak, eight seconds into an interference penalty on Aaron Ekblad, at 8:53 of the first period. Pastrnak took a pass from Jake DeBrusk below the goal line and one-timed the puck from the right circle. They got another from Brandon Carlo, an unassisted goal from the point at 15:12.
Two goals on five shots in the period. 

But the Panthers clawed back, first with an Anton Lundell goal at 14:48 of the second and then on a power-play goal from Sam Bennett at 3:41 of the third. 

It was that goal that presented frustration for the Bruins, who believed Bennett cross-checked Coyle, causing him to fall into Swayman, rendering him unable to stop the puck. The call was challenged by the Bruins for goalie interference but, after review, the call stood. The NHL’s explanation said the contact “did not prevent Swayman from playing the position in the crease prior to Bennett’s goal.”

“We thought that Coyle was on top of our goaltender and if Coyle was able to stand his ground, he could have cleared the puck,” coach Jim Montgomery said. “That inhibited our goaltender from being able to react to playing the puck.”

Coyle called it a “huge swing,” with the Bruins going on the penalty kill because of the unsuccessful challenge. 

“I’m falling over if I don’t hit him,” he said. “I’m falling over all the way if I don’t hit Swayman. There’s no way he can get there. … You think you know the standard of it, but sometimes it goes a different way. Different eyes see different ways, I guess.”

FLA@BOS R2, Gm4: Bennett jams home a loose puck on the power play to tie it

Less than four minutes later, at 7:31, Aleksander Barkov would score the game-winning goal.

“It’s a tough call,” Coyle said. “Sometimes you’ve got to play through things and you can’t make excuses, right? No matter what it is, plays during the game, down in series, we keep playing. We come back and we get it the next time.”

The problems for the Bruins went beyond any dispute about a call.

Boston was able to put just 18 shots on Sergei Bobrovsky, a problem that has plagued them throughout this series. They put up 29 shots in Game 1, their only win of the series, followed by 15 in Game 2 and 17 in Game 3.

“We just have to make sure we extend the lead,” Pastrnak said. “You can’t sit back, especially in the playoffs, against teams like them. You have to extend the lead and keep playing on your toes. You can’t start defending. That’s not our style. We need to be better at that.”

Are they getting enough shots on Bobrovsky?

“No,” Coyle said. “I think we can definitely do a better job of that. Especially early on where we’re up 2-0, but I think we had five shots in the first. You don’t want to just throw it to throw it, but we’ve got to find a way to get inside, get shots through. It starts with things before that, our forecheck, being tight, recovering pucks, and then we build off of that.

“You can’t just shoot the puck from anywhere. You’ve got to find the lanes, you’ve got to get there. And that’s on all of us.”

The Bruins lost Sunday night. They’re guaranteed one more game, Game 5 at Amerant Bank Arena on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN, SNO, SNE, TVAS, CBC). They believe more will follow, even though all-time the Bruins are 0-25 when trailing a series 3-1.

It’s their only choice.

“It’s a tough loss,” Montgomery said. “We’ll start looking at ways to improve again tomorrow.”