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Bruins and Panthers Needs No Extra Hype. It Gets It Anyway



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The Florida Panthers celebrate after defeating the host Boston Bruins on Carter Verhaeghe’s overtime goal in Game 7 on April 30. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

If Matthew Tkachuk actually used a calendar, the Florida Panthers star said he would have circled their game with the Boston Bruins with a big red marker.

That is harder to do on a phone — and actually is not advised.

Red Sharpies can mess up a screen.

Although coach Paul Maurice has mentioned that his team is wrapping up a run of 10 games in 17 days with an afternoon start today in Boston, it does not sound like he will need any special motivational tactics when his team shows up at the Garden later today for their 3:30 p.m. start on ABC.

The Panthers and Bruins has become a heated rivalry, one which got kicked into another gear when Florida not only upset Boston in the first round of last year’s playoffs — but rallied from a 3-1 deficit to do so.

Boston has won all three meetings between the teams since, but it is hard to forget Tkachuk promising his teammates after his overtime goal in Game 5 that the Panthers would be returning for a Game 7.

Not only did the Panthers win Game 6, but Carter Verhaeghe’s goal 8:35 into overtime ruined what Boston hoped would be its first Stanley Cup championship season since 2011.

“This has been looked at as the game of our season or the biggest game circled, whatever you want to call it,’’ Tkachuk told Bally Sports Florida following Thursday’s 6-0 win in Ottawa. “We have been looking forward to this for a long time, going back to play in Boston is going to be awesome. It’s going to be a hostile environment and we’re looking forward to it.”

Florida’s blowout of the Senators on Thursday appeared to pull the Panthers out of their malaise.

The Panthers had lost eight of 10 going into Ottawa, one of which was a tough home loss to the Bruins on March 26.

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Florida had three different leads, including midway through the third when Verhaeghe scored from the left circle.

Only Boston tied the score at 3 with 4:22 remaining on a power-play goal from Trent Frederic on a one-timer off a pass from Brad Marchand in the slot.

Two minutes later, David Pastrnak sent a shot toward the net that hit the skate of Pavel Zacha and went past Sergei Bobrovsky for a 4-3 win.

Of Boston’s three wins against the Panthers this season, two have come by a single goal; the other was a 3-1 Boston win on Thanksgiving Eve when the Bruins scored twice in the second after Nick Cousins tied it.

“This was probably the most physical and the most intense game we’ve played in [months],” Verhaeghe said after the loss to Boston 10 days ago.

“It was a lot of fun playing in this game; there was a playoff-like atmosphere out there. It was fast and intense. It’s a lot of fun playing in these games, but obviously, there are things we’ve got to clean up. We’re going to come back better and learn from it.”

Today’s game definitely has some weight to it although the Panthers and Bruins likely would not meet in the playoffs until the second round.

Boston comes into the game with a four-point lead on Florida atop the Atlantic and would all but clinch the division with a win.

If Florida were to win in regulation, it would pull within two points with four games remaining — and the regulation games won tiebreaker.

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  • When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
  • Where: TD Garden, Boston
  • TV/Streaming: ABC/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
  • Last Season — Regular Season: Tied 2-2; Playoffs: Florida won 4-3 (first-round)
  • This season (Bruins Lead 3-0) — At Boston: Bruins 3, Panthers 2 OT (Oct.30); Saturday. At Florida: Bruins 3, Panthers 1 (Nov. 22); Bruins 4, Panthers 3 (March 26).
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Boston leads 63-37-7, 6 ties
  • All-time Postseason Series: Florida leads 2-0 (1996, 2023)
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Tuesday vs. Ottawa, 7 p.m.

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