BOSTON – The Florida Panthers kept their eye on the prize.

Now, they’re one win away from moving on.

While the Boston Bruins got caught up in the storylines of the heated series, the Panthers kept their nose to the grindstone and clawed their way back from an early deficit to secure a 3-2 win in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at TD Garden on Sunday.

Heading back to Sunrise, the Panthers own a commanding 3-1 lead in the series.

“It’s playoff hockey,” said Panthers forward Sam Bennett, who drew overblown ire in Boston after accidentally injuring Bruins captain Brad Marchand with a defensive reverse hit in Game 3. “People are going to say what they want. Obviously, there’s passionate fans that are going to cheer for their team do whatever they can do pump up their team. We have our game plan and know what we need to do. We’re not affected by that outside noise.”

The noise on the road especially doesn’t seem to bother them.

Dating back to last year, the Panthers have won five straight playoff games at TD Garden.

“It’s important just to recover right now, regroup,” Bennett said of now trying to close out the Bruins in Game 5 on Tuesday at Amerant Bank Arena. “It’s going to be a huge game at home. I’m sure that the fans are going to be into it. Just regroup, refocus and prepare for that next game.”

In Game 4, focus was the key to victory.  

With the Panthers pressing early, Jeremy Swayman came up with two big saves in the first period. Not long after stopping Vladimir Tarasenko on a breakaway, the Bruins goaltender gobbled up a quality look from a driving Evan Rodrigues to keep the game scoreless.

Per, Swayman had 1.61 goals save above expected in the first period.

“They got a good start,” Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov said. “They scored a couple goals. This is a tough building to play in. We just stick with it. We liked how we played in the first period even though they had two goals. We liked our chances. We just kept going.”

Netting their first power-play goal of the series, the Bruins opened the scoring when David Pastrnak teed up a pass from Jake DeBrusk and beat Sergei Bobrovsky with a cruise missile of a one-timer from the right circle to make it 1-0 at 8:53.

At 15:12, Brandon Carlo doubled the lead when he floated in a point shot to make it 2-0.

From there, Bobrovsky dug in his skates and didn’t give up another goal.

“He won’t like the second goal and that’s fine,” Panthers head coach Paul Maurice said of Bobrovsky, who finished the game with 16 saves. “But everything after the second period is world class. We had two shots in the third given up, but there was also some close really ones and I think they missed one. … To be good at that time, that’s the key.”

With both goaltenders making some big stops in the second period, the Panthers finally managed to get the puck past Swayman when Anton Lundell one-timed a dish from Rodrigues into the back of the cage from the left circle to cut the deficit to 2-1 at 14:51.

Lundell cuts the lead in half against Boston.

In finding that crack in Swayman’s armor, the Panthers knew they could do more damage.

“The first goal was obviously huge for our team,” said Lundell, who netted his first goal of the playoffs. “We had some good chances earlier in the game, but it’s hard to score in playoffs. We just stuck with it, had some more chances and then finally went it. We got a head start to our game and were able to show the way. That was good by our line.”

Back within striking distance, the Panthers kept on pushing in the third period.

Treated to a chorus of boos every time he touched the puck during the game, Bennett – who else? – threw some figurative salt into the stands and evened up the score on the power play when he deposited a rebound past a sprawled-out Swayman to make it 2-2 at 3:41.

Boston challenged for goaltender interference, but the goal was upheld after a review.

Bennett puts in rebound to make it 2-2 in the third.

Per the official release from the NHL Situation Room, “the shove by Florida’s Sam Bennett on Charlie Coyle and the subsequent contact with Jeremy Swayman did not prevent Swayman from playing his position in the crease prior to Bennett’s goal.”

“I wasn’t surprised,” Bennett said. “I think they got the right call. I think by the time I’m putting the puck in, it’s before Swayman is going to be able to get over there whether Coyle was on him or not. I think that’s the reason why it stood and that’s how I saw it as well.”

Less than four minutes after Bennett tied things up, Barkov sent the Panthers ahead when he sliced and diced his way through Boston’s defense before beating Swayman to make it 3-2 at 7:31.

Over the last three games, the captain has scored three goals.

Barkov gives Florida a 3-2 lead in the third.

“It’s incredible,” Bennett said. “It’s so much fun to watch Barky play hockey. For anyone else that’s a career-highlight goal. For him, it’s just another day at the office. Pretty remarkable.”

Shutting the door, the Panthers had two big penalty kills late in regulation.

The biggest of those two kills came when an interference penalty led to a 6-on-4 advantage for the Bruins with 34.8 seconds left after Swayman was pulled for the additional attacker.

Not giving up a single shot on goal, the Panthers held on and are now heading home with a chance to end the series.

“You can’t control some things,” Maurice said. “Swayman was strong early in that game. Then there was some strange stuff going on around the net. Sometimes you don’t get the breaks around the net. They’re up two [goals], but our game was right. Mentally it’s very important that we stayed with it.”

In the third period, Florida surrendered just two shots on goal and eight shot attempts.


“Staying mentally focused. When you think about those words, you think about Sergei Bobrovsky right away. He’s mentally focused. He’s ready. He’s prepared whenever. He’s huge for us. He’s our best player. He delivers every single night.” – Aleksander Barkov on Sergei Bobrovsky’s calmness in the crease

“Coming into the third [period], our entire team had the belief that we were going to win this game. It was so positive in this locker room. We knew we were getting that. It was just a matter of time.” – Sam Bennett on the belief in Florida’s locker roo

“I’m not choosing what they’re going to throw at me, what’s happening around me. I try to keep my attention, keep my focus and stay with the moment.” – Sergei Bobrovsky on staying focused in games in which he doesn’t face a lot of shots


- The Panthers led 20-4 in scoring chances in the third period.

- Sergei Bobrovsky made five high-danger saves, per

- The Panthers led 48-44 in hits.

- Aaron Ekblad recorded a team-high seven hits.

- Dmitry Kulikov and Niko Mikkola each blocked two shots.

- Aleksander Barkov extended his point streak to four games.

- Florida led 21-6 in 5-on-5 scoring chances when Aaron Ekblad was deployed.


The Panthers will try to punch their return ticket to the Eastern Conference Final when they host the Bruins for Game 5 at Amerant Bank Arena on Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET.

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