3 Takeaways From Bruins’ 4-3 Game 7 Overtime Loss to Panthers

During the 2022-23 regular season, the Boston Bruins made history by winning 65 games and racking up 135 points in the standings. The Bruins once again made history, this time in the playoffs, and this time, it’s not good history.

2023 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 1 Boston Bruins Florida Panthers
Boston Bruins Florida Panthers (The Hockey Writers)

After a 6-2 win on April 23 over the Florida Panthers at FLA Live Arena, they took a commanding 3-1 series lead, but in the NHL, you need four wins in the best-of-seven series to advance. After having the type of season the Black and Gold had, losing three consecutive games just once in 82 games, you would think they would find a way to win one of the final three games. Not so fast.

With their backs against the wall, the Panthers played three strong games and found different ways to win each one and come back from a 3-1 deficit to knock out the Bruins in seven games in the most historic playoff collapse of all time with a 4-3 overtime win in Game 7 at the TD Garden on a Carter Verhaeghe goal. Here are three takeaways from the Bruins’ 89th and final game of the season.

Swayman Played Well Enough to Win

After Game 6, you knew that Jim Montgomery was going to go to Jeremy Swayman for Game 7. He went 3-2 in last season’s playoffs in the final five games against the Carolina Hurricanes he played in so he had some experience, but asking him to step into a deciding game was tough. He played well enough to win.

Jeremy Swayman Boston Bruins
Jeremy Swayman, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Brandon Montour scored his first of two goals in the first period on the power play. Florida goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made a pass to the Bruins blueline to Anton Lundell, who hit a streaking Montour and his backhander eluded Swayman between the legs for a 1-0 lead. I know he had not played in the series to that point, but you need a save there. He had no chance on Sam Reinhart’s second-period goal on Montour’s second of the game with 59 seconds left when his shot deflected off of Charlie McAvoy’s stick to tie the game.

In overtime, he stopped Matthew Tkachuk on a breakaway a minute in, but he had no chance of Verhaeghe’s shot through a screen that ended the season. The former University of Maine standout made 27 saves.

Bruins Defensive Zone Troubles Fittingly End Season

Throughout the series, the Bruins have created and suffered self-inflicted wounds in the defensive end, and to Florida’s credit, they took full advantage. In Game 7, it was more failed zone-clearing attempts that were costly.

Related: 3 Takeaways From Bruins’ 7-5 Game 6 Loss to the Panthers

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In the second period, Tomas Nosek had a chance to get the puck out of the zone, as did two other teammates with the puck on their stick, but eventually, a turnover led to the Reinhart goal and a 2-0 Florida lead. In the third period with over a minute left, the Bruins could not clear the puck out of the zone and the puck ended up on Montour’s stick and his shot went off of McAvoy and into the net.

In overtime, a simple dump into the corner from center ice from Florida led to a battle behind the net that Florida won and the puck found its way to Verhaeghe’s stick and he ended the series. It’s going to be a long summer for the Black and Gold, but the defensive core is a big reason why they lost this series in historic fashion.

Florida Played With Poise & Was the Better Team

Every time the Bruins tried to deliver a knockout punch in the final three games, the Panthers had an answer. That was never more evident than in Game 7. The Bruins tied the game a minute into the third period when Tyler Bertuzzi tipped a Dmitry Orlov shot from the point on the power play. Then David Pastrnak gave the Bruins a 3-2 lead when he buried the rebound of a Brandon Carlo shot at 4:11 of the period.

Boston carried the play over the next 10 minutes and had chances to add to the lead, but Bobrovsky came up with some big saves to give his team an opportunity to tie the game. The Bruins finished the game with 18 turnovers, but Florida did what good teams do, they remained calm and took advantage of the chances the Bruins gave them. The Panthers were the second wild card team, but they did not play like it. They came into the TD Garden, won the final three games and good teams do that in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. On the flip side, if you’re the Bruins, you don’t deserve to win the series if you lose three games at home.

Quick Bruins’ Takeaways

  • Say what you will about Tkachuck, but he was arguably the best player of the series. He had five goals and six assists in the seven games, including the game-winner in overtime in Game 5. It’s just his first season in Florida and the Bruins are going to see a lot more of him over the years.
  • David Krejci stepped up in what most likely will turn out to be his final game as Bruin with a goal and two assists. He missed three games in the series and he played the final two games with an injury, but he gave his teammates a chance to win, but they couldn’t avoid a collapse.
  • After a very good regular season, the series was a struggle for Hampus Lindholm. Turnovers in the defensive zone, poor passes, defensive zone coverage, you name it, there were games where he was invisible at times. You needed more out of him in the series.

It’s going to be a long off-season for the Bruins. This one stings and will haunt them for years to come. The future of Bergeron and Krejci is up in the air, but in the overall picture, they have no one to blame but themselves for their historic playoff exit. Now it’s going to be a long six months for the Black and Gold with change on the way.

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