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5 Takeaways: Panthers Complete Historic Comeback in Boston

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

11/12/19 Post Game Interviews

11/12/19 Post Game Interviews

Interviews with Head Coach Joel Quenneville, forward Mike Hoffman and goaltender Sam Montembeault.

  • 01:25 •

If you watched tonight's game, you witnessed history.

In the biggest comeback in the 26 seasons they've been playing hockey, Mike Hoffman scored the game-winning goal in the shootout as the Florida Panthers erased a four-goal deficit in the third period to come from behind and defeat the Boston Bruins 5-4 at TD Garden on Tuesday.

"The first two periods were definitely not the way we wanted to play," Hoffman said. "Going into the third down 4-0, we really had nothing to lose. Everyone kind of stepped up… It was a big comeback win. We've had a few of them this season. It's good to see. Guys don't stop battling."

After a scoreless first period in which both teams refused to give up an inch, the Bruins went on the offensive in the second. Within a span of 7:36, David Pastrnak, Joakim Nordstrom, Anders Bjork and Zdeno Chara all scored to put Florida in a 4-0 hole entering the second intermission.

That's when Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said the improbable started to happen.

Jumpstarting the comeback, Aaron Ekblad lit the lamp just 50 seconds into the third period to cut the deficit to 4-1. From there, Frank Vatrano and Hoffman each scored on the power play at 5:26 and 9:43, respectively, to get the Panthers within one goal at 4-3 with plenty of time left.

Then with 1:39 remaining in regulation, Boston native Keith Yandle took advantage of some chaos in front of the crease, swooping down from the blue line and sending the puck over the right shoulder of Tuukka Rask to make it a 4-4 game to stun the Bruins and force extra time.

After a scoreless overtime, Vincent Trocheck and Hoffman each scored in the shootout for the Panthers, while rookie goaltender Sam Montembeault stopped three of four shooters to secure the 5-4 win and attach his name to by far one of the most memorable nights in franchise history.

Video: FLA@BOS: Montembeault denies McAvoy to seal win in SO

"Scoring early in the first shift of the third obviously gave us a little bit of a lift there, and we got some excitement off it," Quenneville said of the comeback. "The power play came up with a couple big ones. Having Monty come in there, he played a great third period, a great response. He made some key saves around our net there. There were some dangerous times there, too." 

Entering the game in the third period in relief of starter Sergei Bobrovsky, Montembeault denied all 15 shots that came his way in regulation and overtime before standing tall in the shootout. In four shootouts so this season, the 23-year-old has gone 3-1-0 while stopping 10 of 13 shooters.

"We never gave up," said Montembeault, who improved to 3-1-1 on the season. "We talked to each other after the second. Just like in New York, we know we have the weapons to come back in those games. We got one early, put them on their heels and then kept putting pressure.

Heading home, the Panthers (9-4-5) earned four out of a possible six points on their three-game road trip, moving into third place in the Atlantic Division and three points behind Boston for first.

"That was the improbable one," Quenneville said. "Don't expect to do that [again]."

Here are five takeaways from Tuesday night's win in Beantown…

1. EKBLAD STARTS THE FIRE

In a deep hole entering the third period, Ekblad provided the Panthers with a spark.

Just 50 seconds into the final frame, Keith Yandle sent a pass to Ekblad, who blasted a one-timer from the left circle that flew right past Rask and into the net to cut Florida's deficit to 4-1.

Video: FLA@BOS: Ekblad blasts one-timer by Rask for goal

"Scoring first shift of the third, certainly gives you at least a little something," Quenneville said of Ekblad's momentum-shifting goal. "That gets us back in the mix."

In potting his second goal of the season, Ekblad continues to produce on offense in the early goings of this season. Through 18 games, the 23-year-old ranks tied for second among Florida's defensemen in points (10), including eight (two goals, six assists) over his last 12 contests.

2. MAKING HIMSELF AT HOME

A Massachusetts native, Vatrano had himself a nice homecoming tonight.

Less than five minutes after Ekblad's goal, Jonathan Huberdeau used some nifty stickhandling to work his way through a pair of defenders before dishing the puck to Vatrano, who buried a one-timer from the slot on the power play to cut Florida's deficit to 4-2 at 5:26 of the third period.

Video: FLA@BOS: Huberdeau, Vatrano connect for PPG

Finding the back of the net in three of his last four games - including goals in each of the last two - Vatrano now ranks tied for fourth on the team in goals with six. A force in all three zones, the 25-year-old winger has also racked up 17 hits, 18 blocked shots and seven takeaways.

In tonight's win, Vatrano was rewarded with a season-high 19:20 of ice time.

3. HOFF TO THE RACES

When you need a big goal on the power play, you turn to Hoffman.

Sent back to the man advantage not long after Vatrano's score, Hoffman corralled a pass from Yandle, kicking the puck up to his stick before going around a defender and slipping the puck under Rask's pads to trim Florida's deficit to a very manageable 4-3 at 9:43 of the third period.

Video: FLA@BOS: Hoffman trims Panthers' deficit with a PPG

A threat to score whenever the extra attacker is on the ice, Hoffman is now tied for the most power-play goals on the team with four. He also ranks third on the team in total goals (7) and fifth in points (12). He also leads the team with 56 shots, including a game-high six tonight.

Additionally, with two more power-play goals tonight, Florida now has at least one power-play goal in seven straight games, converting a league-best 33 percent of its chances in that span.

4. YANDLE BREAKS THE INTERNET

This one sent both Florida's bench and social media into an absolute frenzy.

Playing in the same arena he used to go watch games as a kid, Yandle came up with the heroics late for the Panthers, jumping down from the blue line, gathering a loose puck and beating Rask from the doorstep to tie the game 4-4 with 1:39 left on the clock in regulation.

Video: FLA@BOS: Yandle goes upstairs to tie the game in 3rd

Matching his career-high with three points in the win, Yandle now leads Florida's defensemen with 11 points (two goals, nine assists). Catching fire in the offensive zone, the 33-year-old has at least one point in eight of the last 11 contests, posting one goal and 10 assists in that span.

Not be lost in the fray, Huberdeau also tallied an assist on the play, which earned him a place in Panthers history. An elite playmaker, the 26-year-old winger recorded a game-high three assists tonight, moving him into a tie with Stephen Weiss for most helpers in franchise history (249).

5. BACK TO BB&T CENTER

The Panthers are going to be spending a lot of time on home ice in the coming weeks.

With their road trip now in the books, the team will return to Sunrise to kick off a four-game homestand against Winnipeg on Thursday. Following that game, they'll host the New York Rangers, Philadelphia and Anaheim before heading up and back to Carolina on Nov. 23.

Overall, Florida will play 14 of its next 16 games at BB&T Center.

"We've played two-thirds of our games on the road, so it'll be catchup time," Quenneville said of the upcoming slate of home games. "We've got to make hay there. The most important thing is how well we play at home. Let's establish playing the right way. I think we've done that, for the most part, in our home games. We picked up some huge points on the road in some real tough spots."

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