NHL Playoffs: Panthers force Game 7 with win over Bruins in 12-goal thriller
Florida prevailed in a back-and-forth affair full of highlights and controversy.
When Matthew Tkachuk made a soft guarantee that the Florida Panthers would be back in Boston to face the Bruins in a Game 7, Tkachuk put the pressure on himself and his teammates. After the Panthers won a 7-5 thriller in Game 6, the pressure is now firmly on the Bruins in Game 7 — to survive this series, and avoid squandering their record-breaking regular season.
Tkachuk walked the walk in Game 6 after talking the talk. He registered two goals and an assist, including scoring a big marker to even the game at 5-5 in the third period.
That's Panthers MVP, Matthew Tkachuk to you. pic.twitter.com/2XG4P5DQir
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) April 29, 2023
That goal was part of a stunning seven-goal spree in the third period. Even before that frenetic final frame, the two teams were putting on a show. Maybe David Pastrnak wanted to show that Tkachuk isn’t the only star who could score ridiculous between-the-legs goals, as he showed his skill for one of his two Game 6 goals.
🤯 DAVID PASTRNAK BETWEEN-THE-LEGS GOAL 🤯
🇺🇸: @NHL_On_TNT ➡️ https://t.co/LaJpv7c3yx #NHLonTNT
🇨🇦: @Sportsnet ➡️ https://t.co/uEVY6yXLpz pic.twitter.com/1LcMw2aSwF
— NHL (@NHL) April 29, 2023
Notably, Aleksander Barkov made it 3-2 in the second period mere moments after a Bruins goal was disallowed for a perceived hand pass.
This Jake DeBrusk hand pass took the goal off the board for the Bruins pic.twitter.com/ospRbqWxur
— BetMGM 🦁 (@BetMGM) April 29, 2023
The larger theme of the first two periods was trading blows. The Panthers built (and eventually lost) leads of 1-0 and 2-1 before ending the second period up 3-2. As exciting as the back-and-forth opening 40 minutes were, the third period felt more like two brawlers unloading their heaviest haymakers, over and over again, with Florida being the last fighter standing.
Just 1:32 into the third, Tyler Bertuzzi tied it 3-3. Less than four minutes into the final frame, David Pastrnak gave the Bruins their first lead of Game 6 with a 4-3 tally.
David Pastrnak tallies his second goal of the night on the power play, putting the Bruins up 4-3 in the third!#NHLBruins pic.twitter.com/wTcGIieR2a
— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) April 29, 2023
Less than four minutes after that Pastrnak goal, Zac Dalpe scored his first goal of the playoffs to make it 4-4. Three minutes later, Jake DeBrusk scored a shorthanded goal to give Boston a 5-4 lead, but then Tkachuk answered for Florida to tie it back up at 5-5.
About three-and-a-half minutes after that tying goal, Eetu Luostarinen scored the game-winner.
🙌 THERE WILL BE A GAME 7 IN BOSTON 🙌
The @FlaPanthers would not go away quietly in Game 6, and shortly after the teams traded third period goals, Eetu Luostarinen RIPS home the eventual game winner! #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/8HsayvGv6H
— NHL (@NHL) April 29, 2023
Despite the Bruins pushing to tie Game 6 up again with their goalie on the bench, a Sam Reinhart empty-netter locked down the Panthers' 7-5 win.
That’s one wild third period to end what was already a busy elimination game, and a fitting way to force the first Game 7 of these 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Linus Ullmark has a strong chance to win a Vezina Trophy, and rightly so after having a breakout season. As just about any goalie can attest, regular season splendor can turn into big-game jitters in a hurry if things start to snowball in the playoffs.
Blame it on fatigue, a possible injury, the Panthers or any number of factors, but Ullmark’s looked shaky — and a little slow at times to get to his skates after making saves — for a portion of this series. It inspires the uncomfortable question: should the Bruins stick with Ullmark or turn to Jeremy Swayman in Game 7?
One big disadvantage is that Swayman would be going in cold in a Game 7.
Some wonder if the shock of seeing your starter get benched might serve as a wakeup call for the Bruins.
Bruins have to go Swayman next game no matter what. More of a guilt trip for the skaters than anything else. Look how much Devils straightened out
— DJ Bean (@DJ_Bean) April 29, 2023
Overall, it’s a tough call. Considering how the Panthers shrunk the Bruins’ 3-1 series lead to a 3-3 tie and forced a do-or-die Game 7, Boston has to find answers, and quickly.