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Playoff Ready: Boston Bruins 3, Florida Panthers 2 (OT)

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With the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs two weeks away, the Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins showed they are ready to go.

For real.

If the Bruins and Panthers are to meet up in the postseason for a second straight year, it will not come until the second round.

They both wanted to get their licks in before that on Saturday.

In the end, Jesper Boqvist won it at 2:05 of overtime as the Bruins took a 3-2 win, a season sweep of the Panthers, and a 5-point lead in the Atlantic Division.

Florida opened the scoring 37 seconds in when Matthew Tkachuk found an errant puck after Vladimir Tarasenko’s dump-in banged off a stanchion and landed on his stick.

Boston tied it at 5:42 then, with Tkachuk in the box, took the lead on a Charlie Coyle power-play goal at 15:45 of the second.

Sasha Barkov tied it at 2 by banging home a rebound off a Sam Reinhart shot.

Sergei Bobrovsky played a terrific game for the Panthers and helped force overtime with a big save on Marchand with 44.2 seconds left.

By going to overtime, the Panthers appear likely headed to a first-round matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Both Florida and Boston have four games left, with the Panthers holding a tiebreaker if the two would happen to tie atop the Atlantic.

With the Panthers five points back, it looks like they will open the playoffs on April 20 in Sunrise against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Boston may open with the Tampa Bay Lightning, the top wild-card in the Eastern Conference unless the Lightning catch the New York Rangers for the top seed.

Toronto currently leads Tampa Bay by only two points — but has played in two fewer games.

The Maple Leafs have seven games remaining and trail Florida by seven points for second.

GOALS OF THE GAME

  • Panthers 1, Bruins 0 (0:37, 1st): Vladimir Tarasenko dumps the puck in along the boards, but the puck hits a stanchion and ends up on the stick of Matthew Tkachuk. He buried it.
  • Bruins 1, Panthers 1 (5:42, 1st): Charlie McAvoy ties it up with a nice shot from the slot.
  • Bruins 2, Panthers 1 (15:45, 2nd PP): With Tkachuk in the box for interference, Charlie Coyle knocks in a sharp pass from Brad Marchand to give Boston the lead.
  • Panthers 2, Bruins 2 (5:24, 3rd 4on4): Sasha Barkov cleans up a hard rebound off a shot from Sam Reinhart.
  • Bruins 3, Panthers 2 (2:05, OT): Jesper Boqvist breaks loose and beats Sergei Bobrovsky for the game-winner.

GR’S 3 STARS OF THE GAME

1. Linus Ullmark, Boston

2. Jesper Boqvist, Boston

3. Matthew Tkachuk, Florida

ON DECK

OTTAWA SENATORS @ FLORIDA PANTHERS

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