B pushes Florida to the brink of elimination

Bruins-Panthers Game 4 takeaways: B’s push Florida to brink of elimination originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Bruins pushed the Florida Panthers to the brink of elimination.

The Original Six club was again without its top two centers, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, for Game 4 on Sunday afternoon at FLA Live Arena. But it didn’t matter as the Bruins won in emphatic fashion 6-2. Boston won back-to-back games in Florida after losing twice in that building during the regular season.

Taylor Hall (twice), Jake DeBrusk (twice), Tyler Bertuzzi and Brad Marchand scored for the B’s. Linus Ullmark started in net and made 41 saves on 43 shots (.953 save percentage) for his third win of the series.

WATCH: Tkachuk cheap shots Hathaway with a cross-check after the buzzer

The Bruins now have a 3-1 series lead and can eliminate the Panthers in Game 5 on Wednesday night at TD Garden. Before we look ahead to this matchup, here are three takeaways from Bruins-Panthers Game 4.

1) B’s special teams dominance

The Bruins scored twice on the power play in Game 4 — once in the first period and again in the second frame.

Marchand opened the scoring for the B’s at 9:45 of the first period, pouncing on a loose puck in the crease. It was Marchand’s third goal of the series after scoring just once in his last 18 regular season games.

The Bruins doubled their lead early in the second period after Matthew Tkachuk was penalized for a cross-check late in the opening 20 minutes. Jake Debrusk took advantage of a great pass from Dmitry Orlov.

Boston’s power play is now 4-for-13 in the series and has scored in three of the four games. The Bruins also went 2-for-3 on the penalty kill in Game 4. That unit is 9-for-10 in four games after leading the league with an 87.1 percent shooting percentage in the regular season.

The Bruins should have no problem winning this series if their special teams continue to dominate at this level.

2) Jake Debrusk providing valuable scoring depth

DeBrusk just finished the best regular season of his Bruins career and carried that success into the first round of the playoffs.

The 26-year-old right winger gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead with a power play score in the second period. He put the Bruins up 4-2 with a goal at 8:05 of the third period when he hit the net and won a puck battle in the crease.

It was a huge score for the B’s as the Panthers cut the lead to 3-2 on a Sam Bennett goal just 114 seconds before. Florida had all the momentum until DeBrusk grabbed it back for Boston.

DeBrusk now has five points (three goals, two assists) in four games in this series. His three goals are tied with Marchand and Taylor Hall for the team lead. DeBrusk has five goals and four assists in his last 11 playoff games dating back to Game 1 of last season’s first-round series against the Carolina Hurricanes.

One of the issues with DeBrusk earlier in his career was consistency, especially on offense. Consistency wasn’t an issue during the 2022-23 regular season, and it certainly isn’t an issue in this series so far. DeBrusk has points in three of the four games and has also been instrumental in the Bruins’ penalty kill, which is 9-for-10 in the series.

One of the main reasons the Panthers are one loss away from the end of the season is Barkov’s lackluster performance in this series.

The Panthers’ captain and No. 1 center finished the regular season with 78 points (23 goals, 55 assists) in 67 games, but has made little to no impact offensively against the Bruins. Barkov has zero goals and two assists in the series. One of those assists was a secondary on a pointless goal late in the third game by Florida.

The ice was tilted pretty heavily in favor of the Panthers when Barkov was on the ice at 5-on-5 in the regular season. The Panthers accounted for 56.8 percent of shot attempts and 54.1 percent of all shots on net during Barkov’s 5-on-5 minutes. That trend was reversed in Round 1. The Bruins have a 58-50 advantage in shot attempts, a 33-20 edge in shots on net and a 3-0 goal differential during Barkov’s 49:52 of 5-on-5 ice time through four games.

The Panthers can’t win this series if Barkov and his line are dominated to that extent.

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