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Three-goal second period gives Bruins Game 1 win over Panthers

SUNRISE — Last time the Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers faced off in the postseason, Florida was the scrappy underdog — the eighth seed who came back from a 3-1 deficit to send the Bruins — who notched a record-setting 135 points in the regular season — home earlier than anticipated.

This season, the Panthers were the No. 3 team in the Eastern Conference, one spot ahead of Boston. That made no difference on the ice Monday as the Bruins started this series the way they began last year’s — with a series-opening victory. Boston took a series lead with a 5-1 win at Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise.

“We’ve just got to work harder, ” Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov said. “Not just offensively. We’ve got to work hard in all parts.”

Neither team found the back of the net in the first period despite several Florida mistakes. Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky turned the puck over twice near his net, and defenseman Aaron Ekblad gave the puck away for a mini-breakway — a Bobrovsky save bailed out the defender.

Matthew Tkachuk, moved to the first line with Carter Verhaeghe and Barkov, opened the scoring more than halfway through the second period. Boston turned the puck over in its own zone, Barkov got his stick on the puck and dished it to a wide-open Tkachuk. The second-year Panther’s wrist shot got past Boston standout goalie Jeremy Swayman to put Florida ahead.

But after both teams went more than 30 minutes without a goal, Tkachuk’s score opened the lid on both nets. After an Ekblad turnover, Bruins center Morgan Geekie put the puck past Bobrovsky less than two minutes after the Panthers’ goal, tying the game back up at one.

Shortly after killing a Panthers power play, the Bruins took a 2-1 lead on a close-range shot by defenseman Mason Lohrei. Fellow defenseman Brandon Carlo, who arrived in South Florida late after his wife had their second child, gave Boston insurance with a late second-period score.

“(Carlo’s goal) was a big goal for them at a big time,” Tkachuk said.

Winger Justin Brazeau sealed the game for the Bruins with a breakaway goal 7:13 into the third period, and winger Jake DeBrusk scored an empty-net goal late in the third period.

While the Bruins netted five on Monday, the Panthers struggled to beat the 25-year-old Swayman, who had 38 saves on 39 shot attempts.

“Well you’re not getting a bad goalie,” Maurice said. “… It’s not, if you do it right, you get seven. It doesn’t work like that. He made some really nice saves. We missed some things around the net. I think we had some opportunity to generate more with a different mindset, perhaps. But you’re going to find an elite goalie in every net in all the playoff series.”

The Panthers face the Bruins in Game 2 at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday in Sunrise.

“It’s a different team than we played in the first round,” Tkachuk said. “Style, kind of everything. But for the most part, we ha a pretty solid start. we were able to get the first goal, which is always big. Then, I don’t know even know if it was take the foot off the gas, but we just made some mistakes.”

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