The Florida Panthers did the unthinkable on Sunday night when they defeated the Boston Bruins in overtime of Game 7.
Coming into this first-round matchup, no one outside of Sunrise, Florida thought that the Panthers, the second wild card team in the Eastern Conference, would take down the best team in NHL regular season history. When you get to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, though, all bets are off.
We didn’t know it at the time, but this game was over in the first period. That’s because Florida, for the third consecutive game, scored the first goal of the game. In all seven games in this series, the team that scored first won.
It was defenseman Brandon Montour that got the party started, and in the second period, forward Sam Reinhart doubled the lead for his team.
The Panthers stunned the Bruins in Game 7.
Then, the Boston power play got rolling, scoring the next two goals of the game to even things up. A third straight Bruins goal gave them their first lead of the night, and with the defense that this group had played all season, it seemed like there was no way the Panthers would be able to tie it.
Again, though, everything is different in the playoffs, and Montour scored his second goal of the game with just under a minute to play in regulation. With that, Game 7 went to an extra frame.
The Panthers carried the play in overtime, getting the bulk of the scoring chances. Forward Matthew Tkachuk had an opportunity to end the series but was stopped by Jeremy Swayman, who was making his first start of the series.
A few minutes later, Carter Verhaeghe called game. His second goal of the playoffs sent the Cats on to round two.
The fact that the Bruins lost in the first round is stunning. The fact that it happened against the Florida Panthers is even more surprising. The fact that it happened after the B’s held a 3-1 series advantage is unthinkable. And yet, here we are.
Florida deserves tremendous credit for showing resilience in this matchup. To some extent, the Bruins gave this series away, but the Panthers still had to do their part to step up and take it, and they did that.
Now, the Cats will get set for a second-round meeting with the Toronto Maple Leafs, while the Bruins will have a lot to sort out between now and next season.