Reinhart FLA postgame 51424

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers knew they had no one to blame but themselves.

The Panthers also credited the Boston Bruins for playing with desperation and staying alive in the Eastern Conference Second Round with a 2-1 victory in Game 5 at Amerant Bank Arena on Tuesday.

But they also knew they didn’t bring their best game, particularly at the start, when they had a chance to advance to the Eastern Conference Final with a victory.

“I liked some of what we did to kind of get ‘er back going,” Florida coach Paul Maurice said. “I never felt we got to the way we look. But even with that, we had our missed opportunities. … I didn’t like our game, but I liked the fact that at least from where we were in the first, we got it to a much, much better place in the second and third.”

The Panthers still lead 3-2 in the best-of-7 series and now must play Game 6 in Boston on Friday. The Bruins might have captain Brad Marchand back by then after he missed the past two games with an upper-body injury.

That could make closing the series out more difficult, but Florida has already won two games in this series in Boston and five straight Stanley Cup Playoff games there dating to the first round last postseason.

“You play a seven-game series for a reason,” Panthers forward Sam Reinhart said. “It’s not always going to go your way. You try and learn from it. There’s some things we can do a little bit better. We’re going to learn from it, we’re going to recover and we’re going to come back.”

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Maurice mentioned earlier in the series how the Panthers were passive in their first attempt to close out the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round and lost 6-3 in Game 4 before rebounding to advance with a 6-1 win in Game 5. Florida’s sluggish start Tuesday mirrored Game 4 against Tampa Bay in that way.

The Panthers lost coverage on Morgan Geekie, who went to the front of the net to take a pass from Jake DeBrusk and slide a backhand past goalie Sergei Bobrovsky at 4:49 of the first period. Thanks to Bobrovsky, Florida survived the period trailing only 1-0 despite being outshot 13-4.

“Obviously, they started really well,” Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov said. “They came out of the gate really hot and got going right away. They played really well. So, of course, we can say that, but we still had a lot of time to play better.”

When Florida’s listlessness carried into the second period, Maurice gathered the players at the bench during a television timeout at 6:12.

With the Panthers still trailing and being outshot 17-7, Maurice waved his arms repeatedly while he appeared to be trying to shout above the in-arena music before pointing at the scoreboard and sending the players out for the face-off.

“I don’t think he was yelling,” Barkov said. “He was just trying to get the point through to us that we’ve got to play harder. We’ve got to enjoy. We’ve got to just play our game. Before that, we were kind of sitting back and just watching what was happening.

“He just wanted to get the point through.”

Maurice insisted he wasn’t angry.

“I understood what they were going through,” he said. “I just thought they needed some profanity in their life. And I don't excel at a lot of things in life, but … am I good at that.”

The Panthers responded immediately with Reinhart finding a loose puck in front and lifting it past goalie Jeremy Swayman’s glove at 6:23 -- 11 seconds after Maurice’s heated speech.

The Bruins retook the lead at 10:25 of the second period, however, with defenseman Charlie McAvoy joining the rush as a trailer and taking a pass from Charlie Coyle before beating Bobrovsky over his glove with a shot from between the circles.

Florida maintained its energy after that and closed within 22-19 in shots on goal by the end of the period but couldn’t get the tying goal. The Panthers tried to push more in the third period, but continued to look a little off, missing the crispness in their passing and finish in the offensive zone that helped them score 12 goals on Swayman in winning the previous three games.

Swayman made 10 saves in the third period, including one on Reinhart alone to the left of the net with nine seconds remaining, to finish with 28 for the game.

“I didn’t like our start,” Maurice said. “I understand all of it, why it looked the way it did, the intention that was there. … We’ve got to be better in some areas, but if you think just all you’ve got to do is play your game and you should win and if not it’s a major failure, you’re going to have a [heck] of a time winning a playoff round because the other team gets paid too.

“They were good tonight. They won. Good on them.”

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