BOSTON, MA — One of the worst collapses in Boston sports history unfolded Sunday night at TD Garden when the Bruins, the most decorated team in NHL regular season history saw it’s season go up in smoke.
The Bruins who had more regular season points than any team ever. choked away a 3-1 series lead with a 4-3 overtime loss to the 8th seeded Florida Panthers.
The Bruins not only led the series 3-1, but led the game 3-2 with one minute to play before surrendering a goal after Florida had pulled its goalie with exactly one minute to play. Then 8:35 into OT Carter Verhaeghe beat Jeremy Swayman top shelf to win the game and send the Bruins home to an early offseason.
“Right now, it’s hard to process anything,” said Patrice Bergeron, his eyes still wet with tears. “We’re shocked and disappointed.”
“It’s tough,” said Brad Marchand. “We were hoping to make a good, long run here all together. It’s tough for everybody.”
The Bruins made a rare and somewhat controversial goalie change for Game 7, going with Jeremy Swayman between the pipes and benching Vezina favorite Linus Ullmark who started the first 6 games of the series. And while Swayman was not the problem, he didn’t help much either.
The 3rd year netminder gave up a soft first goal with 7:37 left to play in the first when Brandon Montour beat him with a soft bad angle backhander. Dimitry Orlov didn’t do himself any favors getting lost in coverage and allowing Montour to get a clean shot on Swayman.
The Panthers doubled there lead in the second. The Bruins fourth line found itself hemmed in and some nice tic-tac-toe passing resulted in a goal from Sam Reinhart who ripped a wrister past Swayman for a 2-0 Florida lead.
The Bruins struggled to get much going in the second struggling to connect on passes and frequently missing the net on what few chances they had. Boston finally got on the board thanks to a David Krejci power play goal with 7:52 to give the Bruins some life entering the 3rd.
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The Bruins had a power play carry over into the third and cashed in when Tyler Bertuzzi fired home a wrist shot past Sergei Bobrovsky less than a minute into the period to tie the game at 2.
Just over 3 minutes later the Bruins got the go ahead goal. David Pastrnak fired home a long rebound past Bobrovsky to give the Bruins a 3-2 lead.
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But with the goaltender pulled the Panthers were able to tie the game. Another Brandon Montour goal pulled the Panthers even with exactly one minute to play before Vergahe’s game winner in OT.
The Panthers will now face the Toronto Maple Leafs in Round 2.