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Another Milestone for Bobrovsky. Panthers Get Home Ice in R1

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Florida Panthers goalie poses with a ceremonial puck signifying his 700th NHL game following a 3-2 OT win against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday in Sunrise. // Photo @GeorgeRichards

SUNRISE — Minutes after he scored the game-winning goal in overtime for the Florida Panthers on Saturday, Sam Reinhart was in no mood to do math when it came to Sergei Bobrovsky.

Bobrovsky made 27 saves in a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres, and it came in his 700th NHL game.

That is a lot of games, no matter how you slice it.

Reinhart, whose exploits with the Panthers this season has led to its own mathematics, was simply impressed by the play of his star goalie.

“That’s a lot of games for a goalie and I would like to know the equivalent,’’ said Reinhart, who got his 55th goal of the season on his 10 game-winning goal — both of which trail Pavel Bure for most in one Florida campaign. Bure had 14-game winners in 1999-00 and holds the franchise-lead for goals in a season with 59 and 58.

“I don’t know the calculation for that, but it is a big number. That’s a huge accomplishment for him. For the work he puts in each day, he seems to have a lot left in the tank. We have all the confidence in the world in him.”

For Bobrovsky, 700 games played in the NHL is quite an accomplishment on par with his two Vezina Trophies.

Only 30 goalies have played more as, the common thought is, 500 games for a goalie equates to the 1,000-game threshold by forwards and defensemen.

Florida already gave Bobrovsky a silver goalie stick to commemorate his 500th game in 2021.

The Panthers also wore warmup jerseys with 500 on the back with their last names spelled out using the Cyrillic alphabet to honor their goalie.

As Reinahart surmised, what do you give Bobrovsky for 700?

A pat on the back?

The Panthers are certainly willing to do that — any time and any place.

“700 games for a goalie, with the full 60 or 65 minutes is an incredible accomplishment,” Paul Maurice said of Bobrovsky, who is tied at 31st with former Florida goalie Tomas Vokoun on the all-time game list for goalies.

“And, he is at the peak of his craft — or, at very least as good as he has been. It is real hard to, at any age, have two real strong peaks in your career. We are certainly the benefactors of the quality of his play now.”

Bobrovsky panthers

Sergei Bobrovsky’s warmup jersey to celebrate his 500th game — which happened the previous season — on April 3, 2021, against the Columbus Blue Jackets. // Photo courtesy @FlaPanthers

Bobrovsky had it rough, for a time, on Saturday as did counterpart Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.

Florida and Buffalo traded goals in the opening 10 minutes with the game tied at 2 at 9:48 of the first when Jack Quinn scored on a rebound in front of the net on a power-play chance.

Bobrovsky and Luukkonen both got beat on plays which were not their fault before shutting things down.

After four goals were scoring in the first 10 minutes, Bobrovsky and Luukkonen kept a clean sheet until Reinhart scored off a slick feed from Sasha Barkov with 1:02 left in overtime.

The win sealed home ice advantage for Florida in the first round of the playoffs.

Although the Panthers took over the top spot in the Atlantic Division following their win, Boston beat Pittsburgh later in the evening and is back atop the division.

With two games left against inferior opponents, the Bruins likely take the top spot in the Atlantic and will open against the Lightning.

That means Florida will, unless something crazy happens, finish second.

Its regular-season finale Tuesday against Toronto will simply be a precursor to Game 1 between the two Saturday night in Sunrise.

“You don’t want to think too far … just approach it one game at a time,” said Bobrovsky, who probably will not play again until the playoffs.

“Coach said ‘handle your day,’ and that’s pretty much it. Don’t jump too far ahead, don’t think about what’s going to happen in a week. We had a good game tonight, a good two points. Now, we move on.’’

For The Best Coverage of the Florida Panthers Anywhere:

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TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS @ FLORIDA PANTHERS

  • When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • TV/Streaming: ESPN/ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • This Season (Leafs Lead 2-1) — At Florida: Panthers 3, Leafs 1 (Oct. 19); Tuesday. At Toronto: Leafs 2, Panthers 1 (Nov. 28); Leafs 6, Panthers 4 (April 1).
  • Last Season: Toronto won Regular Season Series 3-1; Florida won Eastern Conference Semifinals 4-1
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Toronto leads 50-37-7, 7 ties
  • END REGULAR SEASON
  • Up Next for the Panthers: GAME 1, Eastern Conference Quarterfinals; TBA

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