1 of 5 | Florida Panthers center Carter Verhaeghe (pictured) beat goalie Jeremy Swayman in overtime to upset the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of their Stanley Cup playoff series Sunday in Boston. File Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo
May 1 (UPI) -- Florida Panthers forward Carter Verhaeghe put an end to the Boston Bruins' all-time great season, firing the puck over goalie Jeremy Swayman's shoulder in overtime to cap a Game 7 rally in Boston.
Fellow forwards Sam Bennett and Matthew Tkachuk assisted the game-winner 8:35 into the bonus period Sunday at TD Garden.
"It just feels good to get the win," Verhaeghe told reporters. "The way we battled back through the series and even in this game, it has been a ride, for sure."
The wild card Panthers trailed 3-1 before they won the final three games of the best-of-seven first-round series against the top-seeded Bruins, who won an NHL-record 65 games during the regular season.
"This was a tough one," Bruins winger Brad Marchand said. "We obviously expected much different results this year and this series. Unfortunately it didn't happen. This one is going to hurt for a long time."
The Panthers will face the No. 2 Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 1 of their second-round series Tuesday in Toronto.
"They are an unreal team and the best I've played in my NHL career," Tkachuk said of the Bruins. The fact that we were able to beat them in the playoffs is crazy."
Defenseman Brandon Montour beat Swayman off a power play to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead 12:23 into the first period. Center Sam Reinhart doubled the lead 74 seconds into the second.
The Bruins responded with three-unanswered goals to take a 3-2 lead with 15:49 remaining in regulation. Center David Krejci netted the first goal of the rally off a power play 6:38 after the Reinhart score.
Krejci and defenseman Dmitry Orlov assisted left wing Tyler Bertuzzi for another power-play score 55 seconds into the third, tying the game 2-2.
Bruins winger David Pastrnak beat Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky less than five minutes later for a 3-2 edge. Panthers defenseman Brandon Montour tied the score by beating Swayman on his stick side with about a minute left in regulation, forcing overtime.
The Panthers and Bruins each came close to end the game with offensive attacks down the stretch, but the lamp wasn't lit for the final time until a crowd formed near the Bruins net with 11:25 remaining in overtime.
Bennett and Tkachuk wrestled the puck away from the Bruins behind the net to spark the exchange. Bennett then took final possession of the puck and skated out of the traffic. He fired a quick pass to Verhaeghe, who stood inside the right circle.
Verhaeghe floated to his left. He then fired a wrist shot toward the near post, placing the puck over Swayman's left shoulder and into the net.
The Maple Leafs will battle the Panthers at 7 p.m. EDT Tuesday on ESPN. Game 2 of the best-of-seven series will be Thursday in Toronto.
The Maple Leafs beat the No. 3 Tampa Bay Lighting 4-2 in their first-round series. The winner of the Maple Leafs-Panthers series will advance to the Eastern Conference finals.
The wild card Seattle Kraken also advanced to the second round with a Game 7 win, upsetting the top-seeded and defending champion Colorado Avalanche on Sunday in Denver.
Kraken right wing Oliver Bjokrstrand scored twice in the 2-1 victory. The Kraken will meet the No. 2 Dallas Stars in Game 1 of their second-round series at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday in Dallas. The winner of the Kraken-Stars series will meet the top-seeded Vegas Golden Knights or No. 2 Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference finals.
The top-seeded New Jersey Devils will battle the No. 3 New York Rangers in Game 7 of the only remaining first-round series at 8 p.m. Monday in Newark, N.J.