The Boston Bruins dropped Game 5 to the Florida Panthers last night, losing 4-3 in overtime. They had the chance to close out the series at home but failed to do so. The Bruins outshot the Panthers 47-25 and completely dominated puck possession in the second and third periods. Yet, they still couldn’t pull out the win. So what went wrong for Boston? The answer is simple, turnovers.
There is no doubt the Bruins should have won this game, and they would have won this game if they managed the puck better. Boston dominated shots on goal, the faceoff circle, and time of possession for most of the night. However, they also consistently turned the puck over at bad times and in bad areas. Ultimately, those turnovers cost them the game as two of Florida’s four goals came directly off egregious Bruin’s turnovers, including the game-winner.
The horrific turnovers started early in the game. Florida opened the scoring after Tyler Bertuzzi passed the puck directly to Carter Verhaeghe right in front of his own net. Verhaeghe then pulled the puck around Linus Ullmark, threw it back out in front, and Anthony Duclair knocked it home.
A horrific turnover also finished the game as Linus Ullmark joined in on the action. The whole play started with Brad Marchand blindly throwing the puck to nobody at the point. The errant pass rolled all the way behind the Bruin’s net, where Ullmark came out to play it. Having no easy passing option, Ullmark tried to rim the puck up the boards. Unfortunately, he got nothing on the clearing attempt and put it right on the stick of, you guessed it, Carter Verhaeghe. Verhaeghe threw the puck to the front of the net, bounced off a scrambling Ullmark, and went right to Matthew Tkachuk, who called game.
These two turnovers were the most egregious because they directly led to Panther’s goals and quite literally cost the Bruins the game. But puck management was a game-long problem for Boston. The box score credits the Bruins with 17 giveaways on the night, but truthfully, it felt like even more than that. Whatever the number truly was, it was way too many.
Playoff games are much too close to be giving freebie goals to your opponent. The Bruins did it twice in Game 5. Turnovers were a major issue in Game 2 as well. Of course, Boston also lost that game.
A pretty clear trend is emerging as this series goes along. When the Bruins manage the puck properly, Florida struggles to score, and Boston wins the game. When the Bruins consistently turn the puck over, Florida takes advantage and steals the win.
Turnovers are the biggest reason the Bruins lost Game 5. Luckily, they still lead the series 3-2 and have two more chances to finish off the Panthers. Game 6 is Friday night in Florida. Boston has played well in Florida so far, winning both Games 3 and 4 on the road. Fans will be hoping for a strong, bounce-back performance. If the Bruins can cut down the turnovers and make smart plays with the puck, there’s a good chance they can put this series to bed Friday night. If we see a repeat of last night’s showing, though, things could get really dicey.
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