Panthers shock record-setting Bruins with Game 7 OT win, advance to face Leafs in 2nd round
Verhaeghe scores winner; Boston's Bergeron played series with herniated disc in back
The Boston Bruins are done, with a long off-season 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.
"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 one 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.
IT'S OVER! FLORIDA COMES ALL THE WAY BACK FROM A 3-1 SERIES DEFICIT! 😱 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Game7?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Game7</a> <br><br>They've taken down the Presidents' Trophy winners‼️ <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StanleyCup?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StanleyCup</a> <a href="https://t.co/Ex1r07SR6P">pic.twitter.com/Ex1r07SR6P</a>—@NHL
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 [our] room."
"I don't think you can find a harder team to play against than the Boston Bruins. They will test you," said Florida head 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.
THIS TEAM DOESN'T QUIT <a href="https://t.co/heYFbSCZ7Q">pic.twitter.com/heYFbSCZ7Q</a>—@FlaPanthers
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.
"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.
'It was an honour to coach that group'
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 Chicago beat Boston in the final.
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 just over four minutes into the third period.
The game could be the last one 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 in his back.
"I gotta take some time and talk with the family and go from there," Bergeron said. "Right now it's too hard to process anything. Obviously we're shocked and disappointed."
"Learned a lot from him this year," Montgomery said. "Hopefully learn more from him next year."