3 takeaways from the Bruins’ Game 1 win over the Panthers

Boston Bruins, David Pastrnak #88. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)
Boston Bruins, David Pastrnak #88. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images) /

On Monday night, the Boston Bruins hosted the Florida Panthers in Game 1 of their first-round series in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Panthers put themselves in a difficult position early in the game when they took a pair of penalties in the opening five minutes. The second penalty was particularly ill-advised, and it led to the first goal of the game.

David Pastrnak, who scored a goal in each regular season meeting this year against the Cats, came up with the series’ first goal. The goal was made possible by a beautiful pass from Tyler Bertuzzi.

The Bruins took down the Panthers in Game 1.

Throughout the first period, Florida played relatively well, but the early struggles put them behind the eight ball. The most notable issue with the penalty-laden start to the game was the amount of time that Matthew Tkachuk spent on the bench. He was largely ineffective in the opening frame.

In period two, Brad Marchand made it a 2-0 game with a soft goal off of the glove of Alex Lyon. Not long after, however, Tkachuk showed what happens when he doesn’t get cold on the bench. His first playoff goal with the Panthers cut the Bruins lead in half.

Late in the second, though, Jake DeBrusk was able to poke a puck in off of the pad of Lyon to reinstate his team’s two-goal advantage. That would remain the margin through 40 minutes.

The final period was paced by the Bruins. Florida had an extended stretch of time during which it barely even attempted a shot. Boston had plenty of practice playing with a lead this season, and it showed, as they closed the game out with a scoreless period.

Below are my three takeaways from Game 1:

Must Start Quickly

As I noted above, the Panthers took two early penalties, and it cost them. In Game 2, and for the rest of the series, Florida has to throw everything at the B’s early with the hopes of scoring the first goal and forcing Boston to play from behind.

It’s worth noting that Boston’s 1-0 lead at the end of the first period marked its first 20-minute lead in its last 11 playoff games. Those previous games did not ultimately lead to series victories, which makes a fast start seem important for both clubs in this series.

The Right Players Scored for the Bruins

There is never a wrong player to get a goal from, especially in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when teams need production out of all four forward lines. With that said, the guys that scored on Monday for the Bruins are the ones that they’d most like to see lighting the lamp.

Pastrnak was on a goal-scoring tear in the month of April, plus he scored in every game against the Panthers in the regular season. I don’t think anyone was expecting him to dry up, but seeing him stay hot with that first goal is a good sign.

Conversely, Brad Marchand had scored only one goal in 18 games coming into the postseason, so getting a goal in Game 1 was much bigger than simply a tally in his team’s favor. The pesky winger added four shots as well, so it seems like he may be gaining some confidence.

Cracks Could be Created

Yes, Boston won the game, but it wasn’t always perfect. The Panthers outshot the Bruins 15-8 in the first period and then edged them out again in period two. Ultimately, Florida launched 32 shots on goal in the game to Boston’s 29.

Now, most of those shots were not overly challenging for Linus Ullmark, but the point is that the Cats had moments that they could have capitalized on. This is one of the more lopsided first-round series, so having some obvious silver linings after Game 1 is critical for the Panthers.

I’d also note that at times, the TD Garden crowd wasn’t all that loud (or at least it didn’t seem that way while watching from home). I think because of Boston’s dominance this season, the fans in New England have been waiting for the playoffs, knowing that these are the games that matter.

While some teams and fanbases may just be happy to reach the postseason, Boston has high expectations for this spring. Winning the Presidents’ Trophy adds a lot of pressure, which fans can feel. Therefore, grabbing a lead or carrying the play on the road could swing some momentum for the Panthers.

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Game 2 between the Bruins and the Panthers will be back at TD Garden on Wednesday at 7:30 PM on ESPN.