The Florida Panthers watched Bruins forward Brad Marchand solo skate past goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, with seconds running in the third period of a 3-3 game.
If Marchand scores, Florida’s season is over.
«I knew I wouldn’t go in,» Panthers coach Paul Maurice said, before admitting he was lying. “You can’t know that I wasn’t coming in, so I’m full of (it) when I just told you that.
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«But I don’t feel like we’ve had much of an advantage in this series, in the karma of the game,» Maurice said after Bobrovsky’s save with 1 second left sent the game into overtime, where Matthew Tkachuk won it. «I felt like we had accumulated enough karma for that shot to not go in.»
Tkachuk scored six minutes into overtime and Bobrovsky stopped 44 shots to help the Panthers beat the Bruins 4-3 on Wednesday night and force their first-round playoff series to Florida for a sixth game.
One game after Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark attempted to fight Tkachuk, the Panthers forward took advantage of Ullmark’s sloppy puck play behind the net to cut Boston’s lead in the best-of-seven series. at 3-2.
«A little bit of pinball and it kind of hit me on the stick. I made sure I put it in the right place,» Tkachuk said. «Bob made a great save, otherwise our season is over…Things happen fast in the playoffs.»
Anthony Duclair, Sam Bennett and Sam Reinhart also scored, each giving the Panthers a lead. Tkachuk also scored a penalty and then assisted on the power-play goal that gave Florida a 3-2 lead five minutes into the third period.
After Boston tied it, and Bobrovsky held on to the lead, Marchand’s pass to Pavel Zacha at the Florida zone point slid down the ice and behind the Boston net. Ullmark sloppily played Carter Verhaeghe at corner; he shot it off Ullmark’s leg and it ricocheted back towards Tkachuk in the slot.
He turned his backhand around and beat the goalie who was out of position.
«That guy’s a player, and then you put on a long string of profanity,» Maurice said. «He’s just a player. He Use your own words.»
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Game 6 is Friday night in Sunrise, Florida, where Boston has already won this series twice to bring the Panthers to the brink of elimination. The Presidents’ Trophy winners had not lost back-to-back home games all season.
«We’re supposed to get swept in the series, right? Everybody says that. So I don’t think anybody really gave us a chance after losing two games in a row and at home and coming here,» Tkachuk said. «It felt like the series was over before that game started… It all comes down to: we don’t want our season to end.»
Patrice Bergeron scored in his return from injury and Ullmark stopped 21 shots for the Bruins. Marchand and Taylor Hall had the other goals for Boston, which rallied from 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 deficits to force overtime.
The Bruins’ loss came one night after the Celtics lost a Game 5 in the same building, missing out on a chance to advance to the second round of the NBA playoffs.
«It’s always hard to close it,» Ullmark said. «A team is going to play for their lives and their season. We have to be better for the next one. Including me. I’m guilty of that too.»
Florida was 2-1 when Bergeron tied the score five seconds into a Boston power play, deflecting Marchand’s shot into the net. Seconds later, Tkachuk drew a penalty hook on Jakub Lauko, and Reinhart quickly put the Panthers back in front.
However, with about 10 minutes remaining in regulation, Hall fought for a puck in the slot, spun, and slotted it into the net to tie the game 3–3. The Panthers earned a faceoff in the Boston zone with 8 seconds left. Marchand pulled out the puck and gave chase, breaking the ice.
Bobrovsky, who didn’t play in the series until Alex Lyon fell behind 3-0 in Game 3, pulled Marchand away with 1 second left on the clock.
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«I felt the pressure had to be on Sergei to play this game,» said Maurice. «Leaders carry the weight of your team. He needed to carry that weight and he was brilliant.»