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Bruins and Panthers: A Rivalry That is Really Heating Up

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The Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins mix it up during Tuesday night’s game in Sunrise. // Roger Lee Photographer (561) 866-2000

SUNRISEThe rivalry between the Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers is not based on geography but on what has happened on the ice. 

Sure, it may not have the history of the Bruins and Canadiens — but this nouveau rivalry has been as intense as it gets.

As evidenced by Tuesday night’s game in Sunrise, these two teams do not like each other.

Among the pleasantries was Boston’s mild-mannered Hampus Lindholm getting into his first fight (versus Sam Bennett) in eleven NHL seasons and 5-9 Brad Marchand going at it with 6-5 Niko Mikkola.

These two teams sure bring out the worst behavior in each other.

Both can play any type of game. 

They have speedsters, marksmen, bangers, and goaltending. 

Both teams have few weaknesses.

The rivalry began to take shape when Florida started its playoff drive last year with a come-from-behind overtime win over Boston on the eve of the All-Star break.

The drag-out seven-game, improbable first-round playoff win by Florida, highlighted by two overtime winners, rubbed a lot of sandpaper into the wounds.

Tuesday, when Carter Verhaeghe netted a go-ahead goal in the third period, there probably wasn’t a Boston fan this side of North Station who didn’t instantly recall how the playoffs ended for the B’s last year.

This season, Boston holds a 3-0 record with one remaining contest to be played in Beantown. 

Each of the three games have been marked by fighting and roughing penalties. It is unlikely they will meet in the first round of the playoffs, but could have a postseason rematch in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

In their first meeting this year, Boston’s Charlie McAvoy received a match penalty and a four-game suspension for a hit to the head of Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Things did not get any friendlier in the next two games.

Boston coach Jim Montgomery was naturally pleased with Boston’s effort to come from behind and break their two-game losing streak with the 4-3 win on Tuesday

He acknowledged that these two teams have mutual respect for the rivalry.

“It’s a real rivalry because it goes back and forth with wins and losses,” he said. “I think both teams get up for these games.”

Marchand discussed how tough it is to play against their new, most hated rival.

“That’s a great team over there,” Marchand said. “They compete very hard. They’re very deep. They don’t really have any holes, so this was a good character win.”

Hockey players thrive on pressure.

After the game, Verhaeghe said it was the most intense game in months, adding that, “It’s a lot of fun playing in these games, but obviously there are things we’ve got to clean up.”

Coach Paul Maurice said he was pleased with the Panthers’ effort even though it was not the desired result.

Florida has 10 more games left in this season. 

The Panthers were already talking about going back to Boston. 

“They have beaten us all three times this season,” Matthew Tkachuk said, “but maybe we meet in the playoffs again. Hopefully we can win a few back. We have them next week and we want to get a win there. We have a few games between then, so, maybe we get a little winning streak going between now and then.”

ON DECK

NEW YORK ISLANDERS @ FLORIDA PANTHERS

  • When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports SUN, ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Last Season: Florida won 2-1
  • This Season (Series Tied 1-1) — At Florida: Islanders 4, Panthers 3 (Dec. 2); Thursday. At Islanders: Panthers 3, Islanders 2 OT (Jan 27).
  • All-time regular season series: Panthers lead 57-33-11, 8 ties
  • Next Up for the Panthers: Saturday vs. Detroit, 12:30 p.m.

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