Bruins-Panthers Game 4 takeaway: BA pushes Florida to brink of elimination

Bruins-Panthers Game 4 takeaway: BA pushes Florida to brink of elimination

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

The Original Six club was once again without its top two centers, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, for Sunday afternoon’s Game 4 at FLA Live Arena. But it didn’t matter, as the Bruins cruised to an emphatic 6-2 victory. Boston has won back-to-back games in Florida after losing twice in this 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.

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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 that matchup, here are three takeaways from Bruins-Panthers Game 4.

1) Domination of special teams by the B’s

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

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

The Bruins doubled their advantage early in the second period after Matthew Tkachuk was penalized for cross-checking at the end of the opening 20 minutes. Jake DeBrusk capitalized on a great pass from Dmitry Orlov.

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

If their special teams continue to dominate at this level, the Bruins should have no problem winning this series.

2) Jake DeBrusk provides valuable scoring depth

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

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

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

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

One of the issues with DeBrusk early in his career was consistency, especially offensively. Consistency wasn’t an issue during the 2022-23 regular season, and it certainly hasn’t been a concern so far in this series. DeBrusk has points in three of the four games and has also been instrumental in the Bruins’ penalty kill, going 9-for-10 in the series.

3) Where is Alexander Barkov?

Barkov’s disappointing performance in this series is one of the primary reasons the Panthers are one more loss away from ending their season.

The Panthers’ captain and No. 1 center finished the regular season with 78 points (23 goals, 55 assists) in 67 games, but he had almost no impact offensively against the Bruins. Barkov has zero goals and two assists in the series. One of those assists was a secondary assist on a meaningless field goal late in Florida’s Game 3 loss.

When Barkov was on the ice at 5-on-5 in the regular season, the ice was heavily tilted in the Panthers’ favor. The Panthers made 56.8 percent of Barkov’s shot attempts and 54.1 percent of all shots on net during Barkov’s 5-on-5 minutes. That trend has been reversed in Round 1. The Bruins have a 58-50 advantage in shot attempts, a 33-20 lead 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 won’t win this series if Barkov and his line are dominating to this degree.

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