Bruins’ season ends with Game 7 overtime loss to Panthers


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It’s all over. The Bruins’ historic season came crashing to an end Sunday night at TD Garden, with Carter Verhaeghe scoring 8:35 into overtime to lift the Florida Panthers to a 4-3 Game 7 win, finishing off a series Boston once led three games to one.

The Bruins had fought back from 2-0 down in the second period to take a 3-2 lead early in the third, but couldn’t hold on. Brandon Montour tied the game with 59 seconds left in regulation, burying a rebound past Jeremy Swayman to send the game to overtime.

Swayman denied two point-blank shots from Verhaeghe and Matthew Tkachuk early in overtime, but the Bruins couldn’t find a winning goal before Verhaeghe finally beat Swayman.

"This is a tough one," Brad Marchand said after the game. "We obviously expected much different results this year and this series, and unfortunately that didn’t happen. This one is going to hurt for a long time."

The Bruins’ comeback began 7:52 into the second with David Krejci scoring on the power play, blasting a one-timer past Sergei Bobrovsky to cut the Florida lead to 2-1.

The B’s got two more power plays late in the period, with Tyler Bertuzzi and David Pastrnak both drawing their second penalties of the game. The first of those two power plays was too sloppy, with the Bruins missing on multiple pass connections.

The second carried over to the third period, and that’s when the Bruins tied the game, with Bertuzzi tipping in a Dmitry Orlov shot for his fifth goal of the series, and Orlov’s eighth assist of the series.

Just over three minutes later, the Bruins had the lead. It again started with Krejci, who corralled a puck along the boards in his own zone, paused to survey his options, and then hit Brandon Carlo in transition. Carlo fired a slap shot from just inside the offensive blue line that Bobrovsky kicked right to a waiting David Pastrnak, who made him pay for the poor rebound control by burying his third goal in the last two games and fifth of the series.

The first period was a special teams fest, and it was the Panthers’ second power play of the game when they went up 1-0. With Taylor Hall in the box for tripping, Montour sliced through the Bruins’ PK with speed up the middle and slid a backhander through Swayman’s five-hole.

The Bruins had a pretty good response to the goal as they strung together some more offensive-zone cycles, although they were a little too pass-happy at times. Arguably their best chance of the first came when a loose puck in the slot led to a mad scramble in front of Sergei Bobrovsky. Carlo swooped in late and nearly scored through the mass of bodies, but hit the crossbar.

The life got sucked out of TD Garden 1:14 into the second period when one of their biggest problems all series led to a second Florida goal. Garnet Hathaway failed to clear the zone on a weak one-handed attempt, then Hampus Lindholm turned over a breakout pass, and seconds later the puck was in the Boston net with Sam Reinhart burying a shot from the slot.

The Bruins had an answer for that goal, but didn’t have one for Montour’s late tying goal, and now they face an offseason filled with question marks after seeing their historic season end in stunning fashion.

"The way it ended didn’t matter, how it ended, it just — the season’s over," coach Jim Montgomery said. "I guess the words that come to mind right now are disappointment, confusion, and then I would say the other part is, you start looking at the season. It was an honor to coach that group. I know we didn’t get to where we wanted, I get that, but their professionalism, their work ethic, their commitment to being pros, it was a joy to be around."

Featured Image Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports