SUNRISE, Fla. — Looking like their skating legs and sharpness were washed out by the South Florida sun and surf, the Bruins saw their seven-game winning streak end at the edge of the Everglades.
A 5-2 loss to the Panthers saw the Bruins (17-3-0) unable to recover after falling behind by three goals in the second period. Given how powerful they had looked in previous games, Wednesday night’s game was a dud of undisciplined play.
Instead of double-digit skaters with points on the night, they had seven players whistled for infractions.
“When you’re having a lot of success, sometimes what you’re preaching falls on deaf ears,” coach Jim Montgomery said. “We haven’t harped on it a lot, but turnovers, and taking too many minor penalties, not using our feet and sticks well enough to take minor penalties” were issues at play.
Montgomery’s club has taken the fourth-most minors (84) in the league.
The Bruins repeatedly wished a Happy Thanksgiving to the penalty box attendants. The Panthers were thankful for a Bruins penalty kill that went a season-worst 4 for 7.
Boston, which still has the second-ranked PK in the league, allowed one power-play goal in three of its first 15 games, and never more than one (51 for 54). They have allowed at least one in each of their last five games (13 for 21).
Against a team with Florida’s firepower, that’s no bueno. Montgomery professed before puck drop that the Panthers (10-8-2) were a top-10 offensive team that wasn’t getting scoreboard results. They poured in three goals in the second period to break open a 1-1 game.
It made for a tough night for Jeremy Swayman, who stopped 26 of 30 shots. Facing that much PK time (8:01), he was an Alaska salmon swimming up a waterfall.
“He made some big saves to keep us in it, especially at 1-1 and 2-1,” Montgomery said. “Deflection goals that go under the bar,” like Aleksander Barkov’s skillful tip that fluttered past Swayman at 15:31 of the second, “it’s pretty hard to fault your goalie.”
Swayman put the onus on himself for Matthew Tkachuk’s short-side deflection, which made it 4-1 with 14 seconds left before the second intermission. Posted up on Swayman’s blocker side on the power play, Tkachuk redirected a bouncing pass from Barkov under the goalie’s arm.
“Their tendency was to bump it to the middle, so I wanted to stay on my feet,” Swayman said. “Obviously he read it well. One I wanted back. I learned from it. I’m not going to let that happen again.”
That was the Panthers’ third power-play goal in the first 40 minutes. It was the fourth time this season, in 20 games, that the Bruins trailed after two periods.
At 6:20 of the third, David Pastrnak cut the deficit to 4-2 with a one-timer from the high slot on a five on three. But the Bruins couldn’t do anything with the remaining 3:06 of power-play time. Brad Marchand was called for interference after colliding mid-ice with Sam Bennett.
Montgomery tried to spark his club by pulling Swayman with 11-plus minutes left in a four-on-four situation. The Bruins got off two shot attempts, but the Panthers blocked both.
“It’s four on four, so they can’t ice the puck,” Montgomery said of the unconventional decision. “It’s a good time to do it. You’re just looking to get as close as you can to tie to the game.”
With 3:54 left, Coyle appeared to score the 4-3 goal, but his putback came off a hand pass in front from Nick Foligno.
After Aaron Ekblad iced it with an empty-netter, Panthers netminder Spencer Knight earned the win. Knight, a 21-year-old Boston College product, turned aside 37 of 39 shots.
The visitors fell behind at 1:49 of the first, after Charlie Coyle was sent off for tripping Gustav Forsling. Brandon Carlo was unable to tie up Sam Reinhart’s stick as he dunked a pass from Tkachuk.
Charlie McAvoy, who was shaken up at 11:26 of the first after sliding face-first into Carter Verhaeghe’s hip, and was later bloodied by a high stick, returned with full force and tied the game at 1.
With the Bruins on a five on three, McAvoy ended the two-man advantage after six seconds. The defenseman scored his second of the season by stepping into a loose puck that David Krejci freed from the corner and blasting it past Knight’s blocker at 17:14 of the first.
Early in the second, the Panthers took the lead on a seemingly innocuous play. They dumped the puck into Jakub Zboril’s corner, but the blue liner couldn’t do anything with the time he had to make a play. Reinhart outworked Zboril and a helping Connor Clifton, and Anton Lundell buried a one-timer at 4:41.
The best of the Bruins’ PK work came around the six-minute mark of the second, when Foligno was called for bumping Brandon Montour in front of the net — a soft interference call — and McAvoy was called for a (more legitimate) trip on Montour. Boston killed both, including 1:21 of a five on three.
“I don’t think it was anything necessarily that they were doing special,” Carlo said of the Bruins’ shorthanded struggles. “I think it was us running outside of position a little bit.
“We’ve got to limit those penalties and those opportunities for them to be on the power play.”
They couldn’t. Trailing, 2-1, Clifton was the only one called in a goal-mouth tussle with Bennett. The Panthers made it 3-1 and 4-1 on those two power-play deflections by Barkov and Tkachuk, and Swayman was left to fish a couple more pucks out of his net.