BOSTON, April 25 -- It wasn't a full house, but the Boston Bruins were resolved to play with full intensity. Facing elimination, Adam Oates had two goals and two assists and Jon Rohloff and Rick Tocchet scored 42 seconds apart in the second period Thursday night to help Boston post a 6-2 victory over the Florida Panthers in Game Four of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. Don Sweeney and Todd Elik each had two assists for the Bruins, who trail 3-1 and must win Game Five on Saturday at Miami to stay alive in the best-of-seven series. There were more than 2,500 empty seats at FleetCenter for the second straight game. 'No matter what happened, we weren't going to allow the fans to see us quit,' Oates said. 'We came out right from the onset, we were going to play hard and see what happens. We talked about it this morning, we dug ourselves a hole, but all we could do was come out and play the first period.' Bill Ranford, who missed Game Two with an ankle injury and struggled in Game Three, made 18 saves for his 26th career post-season victory and first with the Bruins. 'Obviously, we played a much better game tonight and I think everyone in that room made up their mind that they weren't going to go away easy,' Bruins coach Steve Kasper said. 'It's certainly an uphill battle, but you have to start somewhere and tonight was a good start.'
History is not on Boston's side. Only two NHL teams have rallied to caapture series after losing the first three games. The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Detroit Red Wings en route to the Stanley Cup and the 1975 New York Islanders beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in the quarterfinals. Rohloff scored his first career playoff goal, a power-play tally at 5:07 of the second period, to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead. Stationed in the high slot, Rohloff took Oates' pass from behind the net and whipped a low wrist shot past goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck's stick side. Tocchet added his fourth goal of the series just 47 seconds later to make it 3-1. From the left corner, Elik slid a pass into the slot, where Tocchet put a shot on goal. Vanbiesbrouck stopped the initial shot, but left a rebound in front, allowing Tocchet to flip it into the net. 'Tonight, they got the lead, that was a big key,' Florida's Scott Mellanby said. 'We got a little bit ahead of ourselves and ahead of the play. We weren't playing together as we were in the first three games.' Cam Stewart's first career playoff goal at the 10:54 mark of the second period extended the lead to 4-1. Ted Donato centered a pass from behind the net to the top of the crease, where Stewart got his stick on the puck and re-directed it past Vanbiesbrouck. Vanbiesbrouck was pulled following the second period in favor Mark Fitzpatrick. Vanbiesbrouck allowed four goals on 22 shots after allowing just seven goals on 126 shots in the first three games of the series. 'You never feel comfortable with any lead in the playoffs -- ever -- until you win the fourth game -- bottom line,' Vanbiesbrouck said. 'It was evident they wanted to bring the puck to the net. We tried to crawl back into the game, but we gave up the 'next goal' tonight and we could never make up the difference.' Ray Sheppard beat Ranford with a wrist shot from the left circle 1:58 into the third period to pull the Panthers within 4-2, but Oates answered with a shorthanded goal at 5:35 with the Panthers on a 4-on-3 advantage. Sweeney beat a Florida player to the puck in the neutral zone and chipped it to Oates, who raced in alone on Fitzpatrick before ripping a wrist shot over the goaltender's left shoulder. Following the goal, Florida coach Doug MacLean was ejected for arguing by referee Andy van Hellemond. Shawn McEachern scored his second goal of the series with 3:34 remaining to close the scoring. 'I'm not trying to suck up to the referee, but Andy Van Hellemond is a veteran referee and he's not going to call the first or second whack,' Tocchet said. 'He lets things go and that's the way it should be in the playoffs. It seems like we've been getting called a lot for the second whack, but tonight, we weren't.' Boston has outshot Florida in all four games, but this marked the first time the Bruins scored first. 'We're both going to go into Game Five approaching it as very cautious and not wanting to make any mistakes,' Florida captain Brian Skrudland said. 'It's all about work ethic and desire to get the final goal, that's the formula in the playoffs. A seven-game series is never over until you win that fourth game.' Neither of the two games in Boston have been sellouts with over 2,500 empty seats for both contests.