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Game 4 Drama, Sam Bennett’s Goal Sparks Controversy in Bruins Loss

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Florida Panthers’ Sam Bennett celebrates scoring on Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman during the 3rd period of Game 4 of the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs at the TD Garden.

The Boston Bruins are in trouble. They just lost their third playoff game in a row to the Florida Panthers. The latest defeat, a 3-2 loss in Game 4 at TD Garden on Sunday night, came with more controversy. This time, it’s because of a decision the referees made, or didn’t make.

The game had a moment that left Bruins fans upset. It happened when Florida’s Sam Bennett involved. There was a play that some people think should have been called a penalty, but it wasn’t. And that decision hurt the Bruins.

Now, the Bruins are in a tough spot. So, they’re on the brink of elimination from the playoffs. So, they need to find a way to bounce back and win the next game if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Boston was already upset with Sam Bennett before Game 4 on Sunday. In Game 3, he made a hit on Brad Marchand that many people thought was wrong. Some even called it a sucker punch because it seemed unfair. Because of that hit, Marchand couldn’t play in Game 4 because he had an injury.

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Marchand is an important player for the Bruins. He’s their captain, so not having him on the ice was a big loss for the team.

So, when Bennett did something controversial again in Game 4, it made things even more tense between the two teams. Now, with the Bruins facing elimination from the playoffs, while they’re in an even tougher spot without their captain on the ice.

Sam Bennett's power-play goal was not waved off for goaltender interference on Sunday.
Sam Bennett’s power-play goal was not waved off for goaltender interference on Sunday.

During Sunday’s game, Sam Bennett found himself in the middle of another heated moment early in the third period. He scored a goal that tied the game, but it wasn’t without controversy. Before Bennett scored, he seemed to push Charlie Coyle into Jeremy Swayman, the Boston goaltender.

This action made it difficult for Swayman to defend the goal. Many people thought Bennett interfered with the goalie, which should have been a penalty. But despite the protests, the goal stood, leaving the Bruins and their fans frustrated and questioning the referee’s decision.

In the third period, with the Bruins leading 2-1, the Panthers were on a power play and pressing hard in the Boston zone. There was chaos in front of the Bruins’ goalie, Jeremy Swayman, as the Panthers tried to score.

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In the midst of the scramble, Sam Bennett delivered a forceful hit to Charlie Coyle’s back, causing Coyle to crash into Swayman.

Despite the collision, the puck ended up rebounding to Bennett, who seized the opportunity and scored, tying the game at 2-2. Bennett capitalized on the open net, making the most of the confusion in front of Swayman to even the score.

As soon as the goal was scored, the Bruins weren’t happy. Head coach Jim Montgomery quickly challenged the call, believing that the officials would recognize what happened. He was sure that Sam Bennett’s action of cross checking Charlie Coyle into Jeremy Swayman should have been called goaltender interference.

It was Bennett’s push that caused Coyle to collide with Swayman, stopping the Boston goalie from being able to stop the puck. To Montgomery and many others, it seemed pretty obvious that Bennett’s move was against the rules.

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To the surprise of many hockey fans watching, the decision on the ice stood even after a quick review, leaving the game tied at 2-2.

Despite the Bruins’ attempt to overturn the call by challenging it, the officials didn’t see enough evidence to change their minds. This meant the Bruins had to kill off the penalty for making an unsuccessful challenge.

However, just four minutes after Bennett’s controversial goal, the Panthers seized an opportunity. Aleksander Barkov managed to slip past the Bruins’ defense and scored, putting the Panthers ahead 3-2. This goal ultimately led to the Panthers securing a victory, leaving the Bruins on the brink of elimination.

Understandably, the Bruins were not happy about the decision. They felt that Bennett’s actions should have resulted in a penalty, and the fact that the call wasn’t overturned left them frustrated and disappointed.

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Charlie Coyle, Jeremy Swayman & Montgomery’s Reaction to Game 4 Challenge:

Jim Montgomery voiced his belief in clear interference during the play, emphasizing that the decision to uphold the goal came from the NHL’s video review department in Toronto.

Toronto ruled it a good goal, stating the play didn’t interfere, Montgomery stated post game. “We felt Coyle impeded our goaltender, preventing him from reacting to the puck. If Coyle had maintained his position, he could’ve cleared it.”

Montgomery opted not to delve deeper into the league’s decision, saying, “The league handles things well. Just like teams handle their own.”

After the loss, Charlie Coyle shared his perspective on the play, believing he could’ve made a move for the puck if not for Bennett’s shove from behind.

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As the puck entered the crease, I was trying to make a play on it. It went through me. I felt a push from behind, which caused me to fall into Sway,” Coyle recounted. “The puck then went to their player with an open net. I thought I could turn around and clear it. That’s what I intended. It’s a tough situation.

Coyle expressed his view that his fall into Swayman obstructed the goalie’s ability to position himself for the play, insisting the goal should not have been allowed.

I was falling over completely, and if I hadn’t hit Swayman, there’s no way he could have reached it, Coyle elaborated. My momentum pushed him, preventing him from moving. That’s how I see it.

Sam Bennett #9 of the Florida Panthers celebrates his third-period goal against the Boston Bruins in Game Four of the Second Round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the TD Garden.
Sam Bennett #9 of the Florida Panthers celebrates his third-period goal against the Boston Bruins in Game Four of the Second Round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the TD Garden.

Swayman, who made 38 saves during the game, emphasized the clear interference caused by Bennett.

I just want to stick to facts, and the fact is that my own player was pushed into me by theirs. And I couldn’t play my position, Swayman stated.

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Coyle echoed the sentiment, noting how the Bennett goal shifted the momentum of the game dramatically.

It’s a huge swing, Coyle added. “They score to tie it and get a [power play] out of it. That’s the momentum and the swings of the game. We saw something different. They saw something different. I have no other words for that. Whether we agree with it or not, we gotta play through whatever.

What Lies Ahead for the Bruins After Playoff Setback?

After the unsuccessful challenge, the Bruins continued to fight, but the momentum shift was too significant to overcome. Now, their entire season hangs in the balance as they head into Game 5 in Florida on Tuesday night.

For the Boston Bruins, the task ahead is straightforward, yet incredibly challenging. They must win three consecutive games, or else the Panthers will eliminate them from the playoffs for the second consecutive year.

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After last postseason’s disappointment, where the Panthers rallied from a 3-1 series deficit against Boston, the Bruins now have the opportunity to flip the script and seek revenge on Florida.

I have no doubt in this group, emphasized Swayman on Sunday night. We have a lot of confidence and motivation to bring it back to Boston because our fans deserve better. We’re excited to do that.

With determination and a desire to redeem themselves, the Bruins aim to turn the tide and bring the series back to Boston, fueled by the support of their loyal fanbase.

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