BOSTON – Taking a 2-1 lead in the series, the Florida Panthers cruised to a 6-2 win over the Boston Bruins in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at TD Garden on Friday.

Dating back to last season, the Panthers have won four straight playoff games in Boston.

“Coming on the road is just being together with the boys and the us against the world kind of mindset,” Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk said. “We stick together and have such a close team. That helps when you go on the road."

Getting a big boost before the puck even dropped, second-line center Sam Bennett, who’d been out with an upper-body injury since the second game of Round 1, returned to action.

With no signs of rust all, Bennett was throwing the body every chance he could during his first few shifts, including blowing up David Pastrnak with a massive body check early on.

He also had a big hit on Brad Marchand, who later left the game after the second period.

"I think it's important to not dip your toe in,” said Bennett, who finished with an assist and seven hits in his return. “I wanted to go out there and play full speed. That's kind of my game. I wasn't going to come and dip my toe in tonight. That's the only way to approach it."

Drawing first blood against the Bruins, Evan Rodrigues, who’s been a wrecking ball the entire playoffs, got the Panthers on the board when he gently whacked a floating puck out of mid-air past goaltender Jeremy Swayman from just outside the crease to make it 1-0.

Rodrigues scores on tip-in to give Florida a 1-0 lead.

Heading into the first intermission, the Panthers led 13-3 in shots on goal.

“I think we just played our game,” Rodrigues said. “I think we’ve done a really good job of hanging onto pucks in the O-zone and trying to wear them down and kind of turning it into a three-quarter-ice game. I thought our D played phenomenal.”

Past the halfway point of the second period, Swayman kept the Panthers from adding another goal when he robbed Rodrigues on a 2-on-1 rush with a fantastic glove save.

Feeding off some of that momentum, the Bruins went on to piece together some of their most-effective shifts in succession soon after, holding the zone for extended periods of time.

But after the Panthers weathered that storm, all of the air that had built up in Boston’s sails evaporated when Bruins defenseman Mason Lohrei caught Steven Lorentz with a high stick, sending the Panthers to a four-minute power play.

Not intimidated by Boston’s penalty kill, which entered tonight’s matchup sitting at 28-for-30 in the playoffs, the Panthers didn’t let their double dip on the man advantage go to waste.

After Vladimir Tarasenko’s snipe extended the lead to 2-0 at 16:14 on the first half of the double minor, Carter Verhaeghe, a playoff boogeyman in Boston, struck on the second half a minute later when he deflected in a pass from Aleksander Barkov to make it 3-0 at 17:14.

Tarasenko's power play goal makes it 2-0.

“It’s nice to have two goals on the power play,” said Tarasenko, a big add at the trade deadline. “It’s a big moment of the game. We talk a lot about building the momentum. Sometimes you can’t score for a long time on the power play, but it’s important to keep being focused.”

Dating back to Game 2, the Panthers scored 10 unanswered goals, smashing the previous franchise record in the playoffs of six straight goals set all the way back in the 1996.

When the buzzer sounded at the end of the second period, the Bruins headed to the locker room to a chorus of boos.

Early in the third period, those boos continued.

After Bruins forward Jakub Lauko was whistled for goaltender interference for crashing into Bobrovsky while driving toward the net, the Panthers were sent back to the power play.

Unhappy with the call, fans in Boston showered the ice with garbage.

Once the beer bottles, rally towels and other items were cleared from the ice – and with the Bruins somehow avoiding a second penalty for delay of game – the Panthers tacked on their third power play goal when Brandon Montour beat Swayman with a powerful one-timer to make it 4-0 at 3:09.

Montour's one-time on the power-play makes it 4-0.

In four regular-season matchups, Florida went 0-for-11 on the power play against Boston.

“When we use everybody and the team comes in waves, that’s when we have success,” Rodrigues said.

On a delayed penalty, Lauko finally got the Bruins on the board and scored to make it 4-1 at 5:01.

Building off that goal, the Bruins cut their deficit down to just a pair of goals when Jake DeBrusk ripped a shot past Bobrovsky in transition from the left circle to make it 4-2 at 8:31.

Shutting down the would-be comeback for the Bruins, Bobrovsky, who had the tough challenge of staying warm during long dry spells, came up with several important saves on the penalty kill late in the period, including robbing Justin Brazeau on a point-blank shot from the slot.

In front of him, Dmitry Kulikov kicked out his leg and saved a goal with an eye-popping block.

“It kind of got us back into it,” Panthers head coach Paul Maurice said of the PK. “I didn’t mind the start of the third period. I thought we were off a foot where we weren’t in the first two [periods]. It was just a foot. It’s our stick is a half foot out of a passing lane. It happened on one of the goals.”

At 18:36, Sam Reinhart cashed in on the empty net to up the lead to 5-2.

And even when Swayman went back in, the Panthers kept on peppering him with pucks.

Netting the fourth goal of the game on the power play for the Panthers -- and setting a franchise record in the process --Rodrigues teed up a pass from Oliver Ekman-Larsson and blasted home a one-timer to make it 6-2 at 19:09.

Rodrigues makes it 6-2 with a power play goal.

Gaining a 2-1 edge in the series, Florida has outscored Boston 12-3 in the last two games.

“I think the mindset is take the best from the games whether you win or lose and move on to the next game,” Tarasenko said when asked about looking ahead to Game 4 on Sunday. “It’s going one game at a time. This game is done and it’s time to prepare for the next one.”


“[Jeremy Swayman’s] an elite goalie. You’ve got to try and take his eyes away. You’d like to say that about every goalie in the league, but with the way he’s bene playing you focus on it a little bit more. I think we’ve done a good job of generating traffic.” – Evan Rodrigues

“I would say maybe the prototypical kind of Florida Panthers identity, the way we’re viewed or like to play, [Sam Bennett] may embody that.” – Paul Maurice

“I love playoff hockey. It’s a little faster, more physical. Every play is a little more important. You’re able to go out there and lay it all on the line because of how important the game is. I love that opportunity.” – Sam Bennett

"I would say that we've got guys that are physical, but I don't think anyone is as physical as Benny (Sam Bennett). He's not the biggest guy, but he plays so big. He definitely changes our team, for sure." – Matthew Tkachuk


- The Panthers scored twice within a span of 60 seconds or fewer in the playoffs for the fifth time in franchise history.

- Florida’s four power-play goals in Game 3 set a new franchise record for a playoff game.

- Matthew Tkachuk recorded the third three-point playoff game as a Panther.

- Anton Lundell went 10-for-14 (71.4%) in the faceoff circle.

- Aleksander Barkov and Sam Bennett reach recorded seven hits.

- Aaron Ekblad blocked a team-high four shots.

- Sergei Bobrovsky made four high-danger saves, per

- The Panthers led 27-6 in shot attempts at 5-on-5 when Gustav Forsling was on the ice.


The Panthers will look to extend their lead in the series when they face off against the Bruins in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at TD Garden on Sunday.

With puck stop set for 6:30 p.m. ET, the official watch party will be at Baptist Health IcePlex.

Visit for details.