Bruins

Coyle, Ullmark shine as Bruins end Panthers' historic win streak

Bruins

The Florida Panthers' historic win streak to begin the 2021-22 NHL season was finally halted Saturday night in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Boston Bruins at TD Garden.

The Panthers entered the weekend with an 8-0-0 record -- tied for the third-best start to a season in league history. Florida took a 2-1 lead in the third period, but Boston equalized with a Charlie McAvoy power-play goal before winning in the shootout.

The B's snapped their two-game losing streak and will have several days off before hosting the Detroit Red Wings next Thursday night.

WATCH: Bruins' 2021 first-round pick Fabian Lysell dominates in 4-point game

Here are three takeaways from Bruins-Panthers.

1) Linus Ullmark taking control of No. 1 goalie job

People were already worrying about Ullmark after just a couple bad preseason games. He's starting to find his groove in Boston's net, and you could make the case Saturday night's win was his best performance as a Bruin.

Ullmark stopped 33 of the 35 shots sent his way through overtime, as well as all three Panthers attempts in the shootout. He did a nice job tracking the puck through traffic and challenging shooters when appropriate.

The 26-year-old netminder is 3-1-0 with a .920 save percentage and a 2.37 goals against average in four appearances to begin his Bruins career.

Ullmark has been a little bit better than rookie goalie Jeremy Swayman so far, and he deserves a couple more starts, including a much-anticipated showdown against the rival Toronto Maple Leafs on the road next weekend.

 

2) Bruins still searching for right second line

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy tried a bunch of different line combinations Saturday to try and ignite a struggling B's offense. 

The second line saw the most changes, as Cassidy used four different trios during 5-on-5 play. Here's a recap of all four and their ice time together, per Natural Stat Trick:

While the Bruins continue to search for the right line combos, the emergence of Charlie Coyle is a pretty encouraging sign. He scored in the first period to give the Bruins 1-0 lead. It was an absolute snipe under the crossbar to beat Panthers goalie Spencer Knight.

The veteran center won the game in the shootout with a fancy deke:

Coyle has tallied five points (three goals, two assists) in seven games. It took him 16 games to score three goals last season, and he finished with just six tallies in 51 games as injuries limited his effectiveness. After undergoing offseason surgery, Coyle looks like a more explosive and more confident player, and the hope for the Bruins is he continues at this pace and makes it impossible for Cassidy to remove him from the No. 2 center role.

3) Barkov will be a top Hart Trophy candidate all year

You won't find many centers better than Panthers superstar Aleksander Barkov. Florida recently signed him to a eight-year, $80 million contract extension and he's worth every penny.

Barkov extended his point streak to four games with a third-period power-play goal that momentarily gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead. He won the attacking-zone faceoff and then buried a one-time shot past Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark:

Barkov has tallied nine 10 points (five goals, five assists) in the first nine games of the season. The 26-year-old forward is an elite player who would be a household name to casual fans if he played on a more popular team. 

As long as Barkov stays healthy, he's going to be among the top candidates and likely a finalist for the Hart Trophy as the Panthers continue their ascent into the league's upper tier. He excels in all three zones and both special teams units for Florida as one of the sport's most well-rounded centers.