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Florida Panthers knock Bruins out of playoffs – NBC 6 South Florida

Florida Panthers coach Paul Maurice watched his team escape one breakaway group after another and still manage to eliminate the Boston Bruins in six games.

That's why he didn't want to overanalyze the team's second straight trip to the Eastern Conference finals.

“The truth is, part of it is luck,” Maurice said Friday night after Florida beat Boston 2-1 to win its second-round playoff series. “We wasted four chances in the second half, but we were just lucky that they weren't used.

“And that's how it felt on the bench: you didn't feel like you were in control; “It didn’t feel methodical,” Maurice said. “Everyone had a plan, and then they spent the next six games punching each other in the face.”

Defenseman Gustav Forsling scored the game-winning goal with 1:33 left and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 22 shots to help the Panthers knock the Bruins out of the playoffs for the second straight year.

The Panthers advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they will play the New York Rangers. Game 1 is Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

“I'm not doing this. I'm not doing anything with this,” Maurice said. “I need a day off.”

Anton Lundell scored for the Panthers and set up the winning goal when his shot deflected into the left side of the net. Forsling came in and beat Jeremy Swayman on the short side.

“I didn’t see it go in. I just saw how someone else reacted. It was unbelievable,” said Forsling, who scored ten goals this season – one of which was a winner. “Normally I'm not the guy who scores the game-winning goal; I'm out there trying to defend. It’s nice to help your team win, but I’m sticking with defense.”

Florida won all three games of that series in Boston and six straight playoff games at TD Garden. The Panthers also defeated the record-setting Bruins last year en route to the Stanley Cup Final, where they lost to the Las Vegas Golden Knights.

“I would pay money to see Boston and Florida play. If we played 82 games, there wouldn't be any of these men left. But it is hard and fast, sometimes highly skilled and sometimes brutal and violent,” Maurice said. “It’s the best part of hockey, the Bruins series.”

Swayman stopped 26 shots for the Bruins. Pavel Zacha scored late in the first period to give Boston a 1-0 lead, but he couldn't beat Bobrovsky. In the series, the Panthers outscored the Bruins 198-135.

Florida tied the game with seven minutes left in the second after a scramble in front of the Boston net that left DeBrusk on the ice. Lundell dove into the slot and swept the puck past Swayman.

With the game tied and with about three minutes left, Aleksander Barkov blocked a shot from David Pastrnak into the wide open goal.

“Want to talk about the highs and lows of emotions on the bench? This is a gaping net and a legitimate blockage,” Maurice said. “In the end we score the goal. There's a bit of chaos down there. … So it was a real roller coaster ride.”

Boston missed several chances to extend its lead in the second period, including a breakaway by Pastrnak in the opening seconds.

“When you look at the Florida-Boston games, there are too many potential turning points for me to be so arrogant as to sit here and say, 'Well, that's how we did it.' I have no idea,” Maurice said. “You could take the last six wins we have and we could lose every one of them.”

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AP NHL Playoffs: and

Anna Harden

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