SUNRISE, Fla. — If anyone confused Linus Ullmark with Ted Lasso following Game 5, well… you weren’t alone.
A crowded scrum formed in Ullmark’s stall minutes after the Bruins’ 4-3 overtime loss to the Florida Panthers in Game 5 at TD Garden. The second-year Boston netminder addressed the numerous questions involving his blunder on Matthew Tkachuk’s game-winner and the mindset entering another clinching scenario in Game 6 Friday night in Sunrise.
In the moment, Ullmark didn’t know what else he could do.
Even if he left the puck for Matt Grzelcyk behind the net, the Panthers had a couple of forecheckers on opposite sides of the walls to intercept any outlet feed. If he opts to lift the puck any higher to clear the puck out of danger, he’s at further risk of committing a delay of game infraction. He also risks an icing or an intercepted pass in the neutral zone if he decides to send the puck down the middle.
Ullmark saved the Monday Morning quarterback routine for the film session the following morning. Yet, he still used his postgame remarks to channel the popular fictional soccer coach from the hit Apple TV series.
“Maybe I should’ve rimmed [the puck along the boards] or went up the middle. It’s hard to say. This is what happened,” Ullmark said after Game 5.
“It’s all about having the mind of a goldfish.”
Forty-eight hours after his unique analogy went viral, Ullmark hopes to redeem himself in Game 6 following one of his shakier outings of the series. Yet, the Bruins had several opportunities to end the series despite a slow start in Boston Wednesday night.
The Ullmark turnover and Tyler Bertuzzi cough-up highlighted the night of turnovers. But the Bruins found their attacking zone rhythm in the second and third frames, peppering Sergei Bobrovsky with multiple quality scoring looks en route to 47 shots on net.
Behind a pair of power-play goals from Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, and a third-period tally from Taylor Hall, the Bruins came back to tie the game on three occasions. But they couldn’t deliver the final shot against the desperate Panthers.
Now they enter Game 6 hoping to halt Florida’s momentum and end its season once and for all. But the Bruins should still feel good about their chances, especially after playing their best two tilts of the series during Games 3 and 4 at FLA Live Arena.
“I think Monty has talked about digging in more so, and I feel that we did that over the two games here. We dug in, we won our puck battles and played smart in the neutral zone to get behind them, and we were strong on our breakouts as well,” defenseman Brandon Carlo said following the morning skate on Friday. “I think we just need to have that mentality of digging in a little bit deeper, and making sure that we’re improving in all areas where we can.”
The Bruins outscored the Panthers 10-4 in Games 3 and 4. They accomplished that task without their top two centers in Bergeron and David Krejci.
Bergeron returned for Game 5, picking up right where he left off amid a night of Montgomery’s plethora of line changes. Krejci donned a gold non-contact sweater during the pregame skate on Friday. His status remains uncertain with a final decision coming after he partakes in warmups.
No matter the lineup, the Bruins know they’ll need to match Florida’s desperation from the get-go. Even in the three games where they’ve scored first, Boston struggled to establish their 200-foot setup during the first 20 minutes of play.
All season long, the Bruins have embraced the moment. Their attention to detail and fine-tuning between games allowed them to embark on a historic regular season. Given their bounce-back ability following losses, the Bruins remain poised to move on to Round 2.
“I have a lot of confidence in our team,” Montgomery said. “I have a lot of confidence in that group, from the first player through the 23rd, 24th player that’s with us right now.”
Still, they don’t mind drawing inspiration from outside sources, even something — or someone — as quirky as Ted Lasso.
“I think we talked about having a little bit of a goldfish mind, and that’s very true in the playoffs,” Carlo said. “The past is the past, and you can’t control that. So we’re going to focus on the present moment, and here we are, and we’ll go from there.”
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