SUNRISE, Fla. — The Boston Bruins knew they’d have their hands full without Patrice Bergeron for the third straight game. Then, a late scratch to David Krejci left them without their top two centers for a pivotal Game 3 against the Florida Panthers.
Coming out of the hallway outside the locker room of FLA Live Arena upon hearing the Krejci development, the Bruins couldn’t have asked for a better start to Friday’s tilt.
Off a long-distance transitional feed from Dmitry Orlov, Taylor Hall notched his second of the series a mere 2:26 in. His 37-foot shot from the point somehow found its way over Alex Lyon’s glove to give the Bruins the 1-0 lead.
Lyon recovered well enough from the Hall marker to keep the Panthers afloat. The Bruins, however, received a timely second-period insurance tip from Charlie Coyle.
After a sloppy third period in their Game 2 loss, the Bruins returned to their roots in the final 20.
David Pastrnak sent Lyon to the dressing room after extending Boston’s’ lead to 3-0 at 8:32 of the final frame.
With Sergei Bobrovsky replacing Lyon in relief, Nick Foligno extended Boston’s lead to 4-0 with a nifty backhanded tally just 3:13 after Pastrnak’s second tally of the postseason.
The Bruins encountered some late third-period hiccups, allowing a Gustav Forsling shorthanded tally and a Sam Reinhart marker within a 1:18 timeframe.
Despite a bit of a frantic ending, the Bruins held on to reclaim home ice from the Panthers. Here’s what we learned after Boston earned a 4-2 win without Bergeron and Krejci.
Charlie McAvoy provided an early tone-setter for Boston’s D
The third-period collapse from Game 2 didn’t sit well with the Bruins, especially among their defensemen.
And while they still encountered a few turnovers in Game 3, they quickly rectified their miscues from Wednesday.
“We got rattled into things that’s not a part of us, you know,” Linus Ullmark said of the transition from Game 2 to Game 3. “Adversity is good. We’ve got to learn from it and not get too down from it. And I think he guys responded in a very good manner.”
Boston’s defensive core set the tone from the get-go. On the very first shift, Charlie McAvoy delivered a heavy hit to Eetu Listoraninen along the boards.
The Bruins struck on the scoreboard minutes later when Orlov delivered an assertive long-distance feed to Hall in transition. The playmaking, and the heavy hitting, continued.
McAvoy landed more stiff blows, including one on Anton Lundell at open ice, prompting a response from Aleksander Barkov and a post-whistle scrum.
The 2016 first-round pick landed a team-high eight hits and only relinquished one giveaway in 25:21 time on ice. That assertiveness evaded McAvoy and Boston’s D as a whole.
With Matt Grzelcyk’s return to the lineup, the Bruins’ transition game became more fluid. Crisp outlet passes and the defensive layers in front of Ullmark (29 saves) prompted a bounce-back effort among Boston’s six blue-liners.
Coyle was ‘a man possessed.’
Jim Montgomery threw his lines into a blender during Friday’s morning skate.
Among the shakeup, Coyle moved up to the first line with Brad Marchand and Trent Frederic. Upon Krejci’s late scratch, Frederic moved from top-line right wing to third-line center duty with Foligno and Hall.
Even if Krejci suited up, Coyle had a tough assignment, moving from his comfortable spot on the third trio to center the top line. On Friday, he aced his test with flying colors.
“He just seemed like he was a monster. He was a man possessed out there with the way he just took pucks to the net,” Montgomery said of Coyle. “Loved him at the faceoff dot. I thought he controlled the middle of the ice. And I thought at both ends of the goal lines, he made really good plays.”
Coyle had one of the better postseason performances of his five-year tenure in Boston.
The Panthers tried to rattle the Weymouth native with heavy hits and timely stick-checking. After early tension, the Weymouth native took matters into his own hands, aggressively finding time and space in front of the net en route to firing five shots on net in 16:53 time on ice.
Ideally, the Bruins will want Coyle back on third-line duty once Bergeron and Krejci return. As a fill-in, in Game 3, he played his role to a T.
“You can’t replace a Patrice Bergeron or a David Krejci,” Coyle said, “But we do it together.”
Foligno stays in the moment after late addition.
After returning from a lower-body injury for the first two games, Foligno appeared primed to watch Game 3 from the press box. But Krejci’s last-minute scratch prompted Foligno back into bottom-six duty.
Without Bergeron and Krejci, Boston’s depth shined in Game 3. Under an unexpected circumstance, Foligno again showcased his worth to the club.
With a 3-0 lead intact, the Bruins kept pushing for more insurance after Bobrovsky replaced Lyon. Foligno welcomed Bobrovsky into relief duty with a nifty backhanded tally for his first postseason goal since Aug 19, 2020.
“I’ve played long enough to know that [the playoffs] is an emotional roller coaster,” Foligno said. “Obviously, you want to play. You don’t want Krech to be out, but when I got told to play, you have to be ready. This is an opportunity, and I went to these guys just like I’d be expecting these guys to be ready to play at any moment. It’s no different than how I would prepare any other day.”
The Bruins continued to thrive with their next-man-up philosophy. Foligno became living proof of that theory, going from a potential healthy scratch to the scoresheet on Friday.
“I’m just fortunate that we got the win and [I got to] be a part of that,” Foligno added. “Hopefully, it gives us a lot of momentum going forward.”
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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