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2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Game 7: Florida Panthers 4, Boston Bruins 3 (OT)

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The Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins played with everything on the line Sunday night.

Of course it was going to overtime, right?

The Panthers — the underdog, eighth-seeded, slipped-into-the-playoffs Florida Panthers — live to play another day as they pulled out a 4-3 overtime win to send the Bruins into the dust bin of hockey history.

Carter Verhaeghe got ANOTHER historic goal for the Panthers — after Brandon Montour forced overtime with his second goal of the night.

It is Florida which now advances to the second round.

Boston sees its historical season come to a surprising end as it not only won the Presidents’ Trophy for having the most points in the league, but the Bruins set all sorts of regular season records on their way to doing so.

No matter.

The Panthers are now 2-1 all-time in Game 7s: Florida won in Pittsburgh to win the 1996 Eastern Conference final; it lost to New Jersey in Sunrise in 2012.

Florida moves on to the Eastern Conference semifinals where it will start Game 1 in Toronto perhaps as early as Tuesday night. The league will announce series schedules soon.

For the Panthers, they would fly to Fairbanks, Alaska, tonight if that meant this season would continue.

And so it does.

The Panthers did not look awed by the pressure of Sunday’s game as they took a 2-0 lead early in the first period thanks to goals from Brandon Montour and Sam Reinhart.

Montour got the game’s first goal as he picked up his fourth of the series by driving in on Jeremy Swayman and backhanding a pass from Anton Lundell through his legs at 12:23 of the first.

Florida extended its lead 75 seconds into the second as Reinhart drilled a pass from Eetu Luostarinen off a failed clear kept in the zone by Aaron Ekblad.

But the Panthers continued to take penalties — and the Bruins kept making them pay for it.

David Krejci scored Boston’s first goal with Marc Staal in the box at 7:52 of the second, the 10th power play goal — and eighth in the final four games — the Bruins scored in the series.

With the way Florida played Boston 5-on-5, this series might have been already over had the Panthers not given up so many power play chances.

Yet, that’s the story of this series.

With Montour in the box for the second time after running into David Pastrnak at the end of the second, Boston tied the score at 2 just 55 seconds into the third on a Tyler Bertuzzi in front.

The Bruins ended up getting their first lead of the game at 4:11 of the third when Brandon Carlo drove in and threw up a shot that bounded off of Sergei Bobrovsky’s pad.

Montour could not get to it in time as Pastrnak jumped all over it to make it 3-2.

Although Florida did not get a lot going offensively once it trailed, Bobrovsky came to the bench with 1:56 left and the Panthers were able to put pressure on Swayman and the Bruins.

With 59.3 seconds left, Montour got his second of the game by one-timing a deflected puck from the left circle to tie the score and force overtime. The shot appeared to go off the stick of Charlie McAvoy.

The sold out crowd at Boston Garden was already celebrating a playoff victory — but that certainly poured cold water on the fun.

Aside from the final few minutes, Florida only had a couple of scoring chances following Pastrnak’s goal.

The Panthers had only one solid opportunity on a penalty called on McAvoy midway through the period when Swayman stopped Carter Verhaeghe in front.

With Bobrovsky on the bench after the 2-minute mark, Florida put the pressure on with Matthew Tkachuk challenging Swayman down low.

Tkachuk also had another great chance a minute into overtime, getting stopped on a breakaway.

Bobrovsky ended with 33 saves including all five in overtime.

He becomes the first goalie to pull off the 8-1 upset twice in the NHL postseason as he swept the Tampa Bay Lightning with Columbus in 2019 and now took down the Bruins.

Tampa Bay had the second-most wins in NHL history at the time of that momentous sweep; Boston, of course, passed them and had the most wins of any NHL team this season.

On to Toronto.

GOALS OF THE GAME

  • Panthers 1, Bruins 0 (12:23, 1st): Brandon Montour gets things started with a pretty power play goal, taking a sharp pass from Anton Lundell while rushing in, tossing a backhanded shot between the legs of Jeremy Swayman. Sergei Bobrovsky got the puck to Lundell. Give that man an apple.
  • Panthers 2, Bruins 0 (1:15, 2nd): Aaron Ekblad did a nice job keeping a puck in on a Boston clear — with Sam Reinhart teeing off on a pass from Eetu Luostarinen. Secondary assist for Lundell.
  • Panthers 2, Bruins 1 (7:52, 2nd): The Bruins get one on their second power play chance as David Krejci blasts a one-timer from Dmitry Orlov.
  • Bruins 2, Panthers 2 (0:55, 3rd): Tyler Bertuzzi gets in front of a shot from Orlov as Boston gets its 11th power play goal of the series.
  • Bruins 3, Panthers 2 (4:11, 3rd): David Pastrnak jumps on a huge rebound off a Brandon Carlo shot that Montour could not get to in time.
  • Panthers 3, Bruins 3 (19:00, 3rd): Montour scored again, drilling a shot from the left circle off a shot from Sasha Barkov that got deflected and went right on his stick. Lucky and good?
  • Panthers 4, Bruins 3 (8:35, OT): Carter Verhaeghe was the hero of last year’s first-round series against the Capitals and stunned the Bruins with a shot from the right circle. Hello, Toronto…

GR’S 3 STARS OF GAME 7

1. Carter Verhaeghe, Florida

2. Brandon Montour, Florida

3. David Krejci, Boston

FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (ATL2) VS. FLORIDA PANTHERS (WC2)
GAME 1

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