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Panthers take a 2-1 series lead over the Bruins, scoring 4 power play goals in a 6-2 win

The Florida Panthers jumped on the power play, scoring twice on a Bruins double-minor – and four total goals with a man advantage – to take a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Vladimir Tarasenko and Carter Verhaeghe scored one minute apart on the same power play, and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 14 shots to lead the Panthers to a 6-2 victory over the Bruins on Friday night. It was Florida’s second straight six-goal game, aided by Mason Lohrei’s high stick that hit Panthers forward Steven Lorentz in the face and drew blood.

“That was a huge opportunity for us. And we knew it, and we capitalized,” said Florida center Sam Bennett, who returned after missing four games with an undisclosed injury. “Power play goals in the playoffs can sometimes be difficult to achieve. Our power play did a great job scoring two very important goals in an important part of the game.”

Power play goals were especially difficult to come by against Boston, which wiped out 27 of the first 28 penalties in this year’s postseason. The Panthers have now scored on five of their last seven power play opportunities in the series.

“I’ve been a lot more optimistic about our power play than the stats — or at least the goals — would tell you,” Florida coach Paul Maurice said. “It’s easy now to say, ‘Well, it’s just a matter of time.’ But if you keep doing the right things over and over again, you will have a good night. And I think we saved it.”

Evan Rodrigues scored twice, and Brandon Montour also connected for the Panthers, who have won back-to-back games after dropping the opener at home. Florida ran out 6-1 on Wednesday night, scoring 10 straight goals before Jakub Lauko made it 4-1 early in the third and Jake DeBrusk followed with 11:31 to go to make it a two-goal game.

But Boston, playing the final 20 minutes without captain and No. 2 scorer Brad Marchand, couldn’t get any closer before Sam Reinhart added an empty-netter with 1:24 left. Rodrigues scored again — Florida’s fourth power-play goal of the game — in the final minute.

Now the Bruins need a win at home on Sunday night to avoid a 3-1 deficit heading to Florida for Game 5.

“Florida was good. We weren’t. We’ll move on to the next game,” said Bruins coach Jim Montgomery, who will have to decide whether to turn to Linus Ullmark, who alternated with Jeremy Swayman for most of the season before Boston left the rotation in the playoffs. “It’s too early to talk about changes.”

Swayman stopped 27 shots for Boston, which was outshot 13-3 in the first period and 33-16 overall. Things got worse when Marchand, who appeared to struggle after taking a hit from Bennett in the first period, did not return for the third period.

But that turned out to be the only competitive period for the Bruins.

“I thought we rallied because of our captain,” Montgomery said. “I thought David Pastrnak and Charlie McEvoy did a great job even though he wasn’t on the bench. I thought our players were all elevated and we competed like Brad Marchand would.”

After splitting the first two games on their home ice, the Panthers tied the game at 1-0 after eight minutes when Rodrigues knocked a puck out of the air and past Swayman. It remained that way until Lohrei hit Lorentz in the mouth with his stick late in the second inning.

With 23 seconds left in the first half, Tarasenko defeated Swayman with a wrist shot from the left circle – with an assist from Sam Bennett, who was back in the lineup for the first time since Game 2 of the first round against Tampa Bay. Verhaeghe scored A minute later it became 3-0.

Early in the third, Lauko was sent off for interfering with the goalkeeper. The Bruins cried about being pushed into Bobrovsky by Aaron Ekblad, and fans threw water bottles and giveaway towels on the ice, delaying the game for a few minutes.

But once the rubble was cleared, Montour scored to give Florida a 4-0 lead.