The Florida Panthers were feeling pretty good about things in the afterglow of a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night as Matthew Tkachuk’s overtime goal insured his team at least one more game this season.
If Tkachuk has his way, there will be more than that.
In a video released by the Panthers, Tkachuk told his teammates in the postgame locker room that they would be back.
If Florida were to win Friday night in Game 6 at home, the series would return to Boston for Game 7 on Sunday.
In the locker room Wednesday, Brandon Montour — who won the game puck for scoring twice in the third period of Game 2’s win — awarded the Game 5 puck to Tkachuk.
After receiving it, Tkachuk placed it on the team’s traveling playoff puck board, one with spaces for 16 victories.
Tkachuk had a message to his teammates.
“Boys,’’ Tkachuk said, “remember this room. We’ll be back here for 7.’’
Remember this room. pic.twitter.com/oBh7Dm79fh
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) April 27, 2023
Not long afterward, Tkachuk met with the media and tried to put out the idea that the pressure of this series has now shifted to the heavily favored Bruins.
Both Tkachuk and coach Paul Maurice have made public comments that the Panthers were severely overlooked coming in.
“We were supposed to be swept, right?’’ Tkachuk said. “Everyone said so. I don’t think anyone gave us a chance after losing two straight games at home in a backs-against-the-wall type game. It seemed like the series was over before the game started.”
Although few pundits gave the Panthers much of a chance to win four games in this series, many thought this would be a competitive series.
Not many thought this would be a sweep — but that goes against the team’s ‘Lead Dog’ mantra, an us-against-the-world rallying cry.
Still, Tkachuk makes a solid point.
If the Panthers are able to win tonight and force a winner-take-all Game 7 on Sunday in Boston, all of the pressures of this season and the high expectations could come down hard on the Bruins.
“We know there can’t possibly be a Game 7 in their mind right now, right?” Tkachuk said.
“It is up to us to see you guys back here in a couple of days.”
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS, ROUND 1
BOSTON BRUINS (ATL1) VS. FLORIDA PANTHERS (WC2)
GAME 6 (Boston Leads 3-2)
- When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, TNT
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Regular Season Series (Tied 2-2): @Boston 5, Florida 3 (Oct. 17); @Florida 5, Boston 2 (Nov. 23); @Boston 7, Florida 3 (Dec. 19); @Florida 4, Boston 3 OT (Jan. 28)
- Last Season: Boston won 2-1
- All-time Regular Season Series: Boston leads 60-38-6, 6 ties
- Playoff History (Florida leads 1-0): Panthers 4-1, 1996 (first round)
- First Round Schedule — Game 1: @Boston 3, Florida 1; Game 2: Florida 6, @Boston 3; Game 3: Boston 4, @Florida 2; Game 4: Boston 6, @Florida 2; Game 5: Florida 4, @Boston 3 (OT); Game 6: at Florida, Friday, 7:30 (TNT, BSF); Game 7*: at Boston, Sunday. (*) — If Necessary.