Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins have different opinions on Bennett-Marchand collision

Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins have different opinions on Bennett-Marchand collision
Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins have different opinions on Bennett-Marchand collision

The latest talking point in the Florida Panthers’ second-round Stanley Cup Playoffs series matchup with the Boston Bruins stems from a first-period hit from Panthers center Bennett that ultimately forced Bruins captain Brad Marchand to leave Florida’s 6-2 Game 3 win on Friday early due to injury.

On the play, Bennett passed the puck forward into the neutral zone before colliding with Marchand near the benches at center ice about three-and-a-half minutes into regulation. Marchand appeared to have lowered his shoulder as the two collided.

Marchand went to the bench in pain but played through the second period.

He didn’t come out for the third, and Bruins coach Jim Montgomery told reporters on Saturday that Marchand is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

“In real time, I’ve gotta be honest, my eyes weren’t on there as the puck had left that area,” Montgomery said. “My eyes weren’t on the exact play, but having seen it, there’s a history there with Bennett. He’s a hard player, but there’s clearly evidence of what went on. People can say it wasn’t intentional, but we have our view of it.”

Panthers coach Paul Maurice disagreed with that notion.

“It was just a collision,” Maurice said Saturday morning. “In a perfect world, every team has everyone healthy. Nobody likes to see him get hurt.”

Friday was Bennett’s first game back in the lineup since Game 2 of Florida’s first-round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning on April 23. He missed five games after taking a slap shot on the wrist midway through that Lightning game.

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Marchand, meanwhile, has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) through 10 games this postseason for Boston.

“Obviously he’s a heck of a player,” Bennett said postgame Friday about Marchand. “He’s an important part of that team. It’s playoff hockey. We’ll see.”

Puck drop for Game 4 of the best-of-7 series is at 6:30 pm Sunday at Boston’s TD Garden. Florida leads the series 2-1.

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