The Boston Bruins are done, with a long offseason to think about their failure to capitalize on the greatest regular season in NHL history.
The Florida Panthers are moving on, thrown right into their second-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
‘Game 7. Overtime win. Against pretty much the best team in regular-season history. It’s unreal,’ Panthers center Aleksander Barkov said after Florida beat Boston 4-3 in OT to eliminate the record-setting Bruins from the playoffs.
‘For sure it’s up there, and it’s hard to understand right now. I don’t think we need to understand right now. We’ll understand later.’
Brandon Montour tied it with 1 minute left in regulation, and Carter Verhaeghe scored the game-winner at 8:35 of overtime. The Panthers won three straight after falling behind 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.
The Florida Panters eliminated the record-breaking Boston Bruins from Stanley Cup Playoffs
The Panthers celebrate after defeating the Boston Bruins after a goal by Carter Verhaeghe
Boston, the Presidents’ Trophy winners with NHL records of 65 wins and 135 points, had not lost three in a row all season.
‘The fact that we were able to do what we did after what they did all year … they’re an unreal team and the best I’ve played in my NHL career. The fact that we were able to beat them was crazy,’ Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk said.
‘Let’s be honest: Nobody in the whole world thought we were going to win that series except for the guys in that room.’
Sergei Bobrovsky made 33 saves for Florida, which advanced in the postseason for just the second time since reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 1996. They will face Toronto, which finished off the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday in six games.
‘I don’t think you can find a harder team to play against than the Boston Bruins. They will test you,’ said Florida coach Paul Maurice, who improved to 4-0 in Game 7’s in his career. ‘The players here now have a shared experience of what hard is. … It will make us better for five years. That´s how hard it was.’
Boston rallied from a two-goal deficit to take a 3-2 lead, but Maurice pulled Bobrovsky in the final minutes and called timeout with 88 seconds left to give his players a breather. Montour tied it with his second of the game.
Maurice, who was on the Winnipeg bench when the Jets eliminated Presidents’ Trophy-winning Nashville in the second round in 2018, admitted his confidence was waning.
Sam Reinhart (13) watches the puck on the tying goal by teammate Brandon Montour
‘We’re down a goal with under two minutes to go against Boston. I wouldn’t bet everything, because the match doesn’t add up,’ he said. ‘But when that goal goes in you go, “Ohhh, we´re going to win this game.”‘
Verhaeghe won it on a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle that just made it under the crossbar.
That eliminated the Bruins, who became the second Presidents´ Trophy winner in five years to lose in the first round. No team with the best regular-season record has won the Stanley Cup since 2013, when the Chicago Blackhawks beat Boston in the Final.
‘It was an honor to coach that group,’ said Bruins coach Jim Montgomery, who took over in Boston this year after Bruce Cassidy was fired. ‘I know we didn´t get to where we wanted. I get that. But their professionalism, their work ethic, their commitment to being pros. It was a joy to be around.’
Montour scored Florida’s first goal, and Sam Reinhart made it 2-0 early in the second period. David Krejci and Tyler Bertuzzi scored to tie it, and David Pastrnak gave the Bruins their only lead of the game on a power-play goal 55 seconds into the third period.
Jeremy Swayman, making his first start of the series as a sub for likely Vezina Trophy winner Linus Ullmark, stopped 27 shots.
The game could be the last for Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron, who teased retirement last year but opted to return. He was the last Boston player on the ice, leaving after a stick-wave to the crowd and one last hug with Brad Marchand.
Bergeron said after the game he will take some time to consider his future. The five-time Selke Trophy-winner missed the first five games of the series and played the last two with a herniated disc.
‘Learned a lot from him this year,’ Montgomery said. ‘Hopefully learn more from him next year.’
Bruins’ Brandon Carlo and Jeremy Swayman stand on the ice after losing to the Panthers
KRAKEN 2, AVALANCHE 1
Oliver Bjorkstrand scored twice, Philipp Grubauer was stellar in stopping 33 shots as the Seattle Kraken eliminated the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche with a 2-1 win in Game 7 on Sunday night.
The Kraken became the first expansion team to beat the reigning Stanley Cup champs in their inaugural playoff series, according to NHL Stats.
Bjorkstrand scored one goal on a fortuitous deflection – the puck hit off a stick and glove – and another with a liner past goaltender Alexandar Georgiev that clanged off the post. Seattle grabbed the lead in every game in the series.
Next up for the second-year Kraken is a second-round series against the Stars that opens in Dallas on Tuesday night. Seattle was 1-1-1 against Dallas in the regular season.
Mikko Rantanen was credited with a power-play goal for Colorado after a shot by Nathan MacKinnon clipped him and went in. MacKinnon appeared to score early in the third period to tie it at 2, but Seattle challenged the play and the goal was disallowed due to Colorado being offside.
The Seattle Kraken eliminated the Colorado Avalanche to advance in the Stanley Cup playoffs
Jaden Schwartz, defenseman Jamie Oleksiak and goaltender Philipp Grubauer celebrate
The Avalanche pulled Georgiev with under two minutes remaining but couldn’t get the equalizer. It allowed the Kraken to accomplish another franchise first – a series-clinching celebration.
Colorado has now lost its last six Game 7s. The last time the Avalanche won a winner-take-all Game 7 was 2002, when they beat San Jose 1-0 courtesy of a goal from Hall of Fame forward Peter Forsberg.
Both teams lost players for the series due to hard hits. Jared McCann didn’t play again after taking a hit from Cale Makar along the boards in Game 4, which drew a one-game suspension (Game 5) for the Avalanche defenseman.
Colorado was without Andrew Cogliano for Game 7 after he suffered a fracture in his neck following a hit along the boards from Kraken forward Jordan Eberle, who didn’t face supplemental discipline.
MacKinnon energized the crowd with what looked like a tying goal. But it was taken off the board following a successful challenge by the Kraken. Artturi Lehkonen was ruled in the zone before the puck entered.
It’s the second time this series the Kraken have used a challenge to negate an Avalanche score.
The Kraken also deflated the capacity crowd by doing what they´ve done in every game this series – score first.
Held without a goal all series, Bjorkstrand picked a good time to find the net. He was credited with a goal in the second period that glanced the stick of Alex Newhook and then off the glove of Ben Meyers and into the net. Bjorkstrand scored again nearly four minutes later with a pinpoint shot on a breakaway down the side to make it 2-0.
Bjorkstrand nearly had a hat trick but his shot late in the game hit the post.
With 27.3 seconds left in the second period, MacKinnon lined a shot that glanced off Rantanen and went by Grubauer.
Kraken goaltender Philipp Grubauer celebrates with defenseman Jamie Oleksiak as time ends
Kraken center Ryan Donato, bottom, is sent flying by Colorado Avalanche LW J.T. Compher
MacKinnon’s assist on the play was his 100th career playoff point. He joins the company of Joe Sakic (188) and Forsberg (159) as the only Avalanche players to reach the 100-point milestone in the postseason.
Georgiev finished with 25 saves. Grubauer was sensational in the first period against his former team. He stopped 16 shots, including one with the top of his stick, to set the tone for the evening.
The banged-up Avalanche were missing forwards Darren Helm (upper body), Cogliano and Valeri Nichushkin (personal reasons), along with defenseman Josh Manson (lower body) in Game 7.
They’ve been without captain Gabriel Landeskog all season after he underwent knee surgery in October.