scorecardresearch Skip to main content

Linus Ullmark and the Bruins start fast and slow the Panthers to seize early control of first-round series

Linus Ullmark (left) was waiting for a goalie hug from Jeremy Swayman after making 31 saves in his first playoff win.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

The Bruins didn’t need Patrice Bergeron to snuff out the Panthers’ go-go offense. They had more than enough talent, especially in goal.

Linus Ullmark (31 saves), returning after a restful final week of the regular season, was massive as the Bruins deconstructed the Panthers in a 3-1 win on Monday night at TD Garden in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round series. He was great in the first two periods, and was mostly a spectator as his teammates submitted a lockdown third (eight shots against).

“It was nice,” Ullmark, the former Sabre, said of his first playoff win. “Now we’ve just got to get 15 more.”


Ullmark was in control of the chaos. His denial of a Brandon Montour slapper from the slot, on one of the Panthers’ few chances in the third, stopped cold this Panthers’ comeback bid. The last time these teams had met, on Jan. 28 in Sunrise, Fla., the Bruins coughed up a lead in the final minute and lost in overtime.

That was a long time ago.

Coach Jim Montgomery sees plenty of room for improvement, particularly in the Bruins’ five-on-five play: they were outshot, 29-23, and the Panthers were credited with 33 scoring chances (per Natural Stat Trick) to the Bruins’ 25, as well as 3.04 expected goals to the Boston’s 1.94.

The Bruins’ 1 for 2 mark on the power play, and 2 for 2 penalty-killing helped push them toward the series lead.

“Results matter more than the process right now,” Montgomery said. “The result was really good. I think the result comes from we had some players play really well, especially our goaltender … I really liked our first six minutes. The intensity of the playoffs surprised us a little, and I think we had a little bit of nerves.”

It wasn’t smooth, but the Bruins held the 3-1 lead after 40 minutes on goals from David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, and Jake DeBrusk. They nearly had a three-goal lead with 3:16 left to play, when Garnet Hathaway poked the puck out of netminder Alex Lyon’s glove and into the net. The goal call was overturned, but stood as more evidence of Lyon’s shakiness.


This already looks like a chippy series, as several players took liberties. The Bruins remained unbothered by the playoff heat. In the third, Tyler Bertuzzi (two assists) snatched Nick Cousins’ stick, much to the latter’s annoyance, and took it with him to the bench, where he snapped it by spiking it.

Garnet Hathaway has the last laugh as Florida's Matthew Tkachuk takes a swipe at him at the end of Game 1.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

“I mean, it’s playoffs,” said Bertuzzi, the former Red Wing who looked right at home in his postseason debut. “There’s going to be some stupid things that happen. And that was one of them.”

The Panthers were tempting fate early. They took two minor penalties in the first five minutes and saw a few more infractions go uncalled.

The Bruins’ second power play, after Givani Smith interfered with Trent Frederic, produced the opening goal at 5:58 of the first. Bertuzzi snatched a rebound of a David Krejci shot and, while covered, threw a blind backhand feed to an open Pastrnak for the tap-in.

“When we acquired [Bertuzzi] we thought he was a guy that was made for the playoffs,” Montgomery said. “The first shift he laid out two huge hits. He just kept making plays. The puck seems to follow him, and he makes plays. He makes real good decisions with it.”


Lyon (26 saves) made massive stops on a pair of two-on-ones — sweet setups from David Krejci to Bertuzzi, and Taylor Hall to Frederic — but the Bruins, needing to bear down, weren’t quite picking corners against him. Lyon finished the first with seven saves.

In the second period, Lyon sprung a few leaks, enough that he was showered with catcalls from the Causeway Street crowd.

The Bruins, sharp in transition, kept coming downhill until Marchand’s uncontested shot from 38 feet ticked off the webbing of Lyon’s glove at 3:41. Bruins fans serenaded him with his name. The Panthers’ hopes in this series rest on Lyon stealing a game or two, not letting in multiple shots from distance.

Matthew Tkachuk got one back at 6:34 of the second, skillfully depositing a fortunate bounce past Ullmark. A hard-rimmed puck came to Dmitry Orlov, who appeared to try and deflect it to a teammate in the slot. Tkachuk, Florida’s no-doubt MVP, had too much speed and picked off the pass before finishing in tight.

Things got chippy early in Game 1 when Brad Marchand took a stick to the head.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

The Bruins made it 3-1 on a dirty goal. Bertuzzi and Pavel Zacha had whacks at the puck, and DeBrusk chipped it home at 17:32 as Lyon tried to find it. Lyon thought he had the puck squeezed, but it was sitting on top of his flattened right pad, near his skate, and considered a loose biscuit.

On the other end, Ullmark was up to the task against the Panthers’ offense, which relied heavily on point shots, deflections, and chaos in front. The Bruins got better at boxing out as the game wore on, and created more havoc at the other end.


Enough to make one wonder if Panthers coach Paul Maurice, who has a playoff-tested backup in Sergei Bobrovsky, will commit to Lyon in Game 2.

If so, Wednesday night’s TD Garden crowd will be ready to remind him of his choice.

Matt Porter can be reached at Follow him @mattyports.