These Boston Bruins haven’t been accustomed to dropping streaks.
They tore by means of the N.H.L. throughout the common season, successful 65 video games, a single-season record; claiming the Presidents’ Trophy with a league-high of 135 factors, 22 factors clear of each different workforce; and outscoring their opponents by 128 targets.
But in any case that successful, a three-game dropping streak, simply their second of the season, got here at an inopportune time. The Florida Panthers defeated the Bruins, 4-3, in additional time of Game 7 of their first-round playoff collection on Sunday evening in Boston to finish a uncommon comeback from a 3-1 collection deficit. And they did so in opposition to a number of the most formidable opposition within the league’s 106-year historical past: The Bruins had 43 extra factors than the Panthers did within the common season.
Boston had been so dominant that on Saturday evening, after Toronto beat Tampa Bay to win a postseason series for the first time since 2004, some followers of the Maple Leafs gathered outdoors the workforce’s area and chanted, “We want Florida.”
They bought their want.
Carter Verhaeghe, a member of Tampa Bay’s 2020 championship workforce, clinched the collection with a left-handed shot from the correct face-off dot by means of a display by Matthew Tkachuk.
The Panthers constructed a 2-0 lead early within the second interval, inciting a smattering of boos from an antsy Boston crowd. The Bruins scored three consecutive targets and appeared poised to advance, however defenseman Brandon Montour pressured additional time by scoring his second purpose of the sport with lower than a minute left, and the goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was despatched to the bench for an additional attacker.
By dropping within the first spherical, the Bruins had been dealt the identical destiny of the 2018-19 Lightning, who had shared the earlier document for single-season wins with the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings. That Tampa Bay workforce crashed out in a four-game sweep to Columbus, inspiring an apology to the followers on social media. Of the 4 groups to win at the very least 60 video games in a season, just one, the star-laden 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens, went on to win the Stanley Cup.
This 12 months’s Bruins, below their first-year coach, Jim Montgomery, additionally had expertise all through their roster. Five gamers had at the very least 20 targets, and 5 had at the very least 40 assists. David Pastrnak, the star winger who signed an eight-year contract extension final month, led each these classes with profession highs of 61 targets and 52 assists.
In web, Linus Ullmark’s league-leading save proportion and goals-against common had positioned him as a favourite to win the Vezina Trophy. And when Ullmark was not in between the pipes, Jeremy Swayman was posting stellar numbers, too.
This 12 months, Boston turned the fastest team ever to reach 50 wins. By the tip, although, followers on the TD Garden had been trudging towards the exits after the Bruins turned the twenty eighth N.H.L. workforce to lose a playoff collection after main by 3-1.
Boston will now enter an low season with vital inquiries to reply. The workforce doesn’t have a lot wage cap house, and its unrestricted free brokers embody two members of its most up-to-date championship workforce — Patrice Bergeron, the 37-year-old captain and a prime defensive ahead; and David Krejci, who had a purpose and two assists on Sunday. The workforce had rallied round these veterans to attempt to ship them yet another title.
The Bruins additionally don’t have high-end draft picks out there. They don’t have a first- or second-round choose this 12 months and, due to a previous commerce, they could not have a variety within the 2024 draft till the fourth spherical.
The Panthers had been soundly crushed in Game 4 and had been one additional time purpose away from their season being over within the subsequent sport. Instead, improbably, they’ll play on.