SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — The season for the Florida Panthers cannot end on Wednesday night. It’s not an elimination game, the Boston Bruins cannot close them out and no matter what happens there’s a flight to Massachusetts on Thursday and another game there on Friday.

So, it’s not a must-win.

The Panthers might feel otherwise.

Game 2 of Panthers-Bruins is Wednesday night, with Boston looking to go up 2-0 in the NHL second-round playoff series. Florida has trailed a playoff matchup 2-0 on five occasions in its history and hasn’t rallied to win any of them — the Panthers were swept by Colorado in the 1996 Stanley Cup Final, swept by New Jersey in the first round in 2000, lost in six games to Tampa Bay in the 2021 first round, got swept by the Lightning in the second round in 2022 and lost last year’s Final to Vegas in five games.

“Nobody’s gone 16-0 as far as I know,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said Tuesday. “So, everybody’s going to suffer … you rebound and you learn from it.”

Florida-Boston is the first of two NHL playoff games on Wednesday’s schedule. It’ll be followed by Game 1 of Vancouver-Edmonton in a Western Conference second-round series, with the Canucks having home-ice advantage in that matchup.

Vancouver swept Edmonton in all four regular-season meetings, though three of those games were during the Oilers’ horrid 3-9-1 start that led to the firing of coach Jay Woodcroft.

“We’re going into Round 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs,” Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl said. “We don’t care about what happened in the regular season. And I bet you that they don’t either, as much as you think. We’re a different team now. It’s going to be tight-checking, with two really good teams going at it. The team that plays better hockey will win.”

The Oilers hope their regular-season fortunes change.

The Panthers desperately need the same to happen.

Boston is now 5-0-0 against the Panthers this season, the most recent — and most emphatic — of those wins coming by a 5-1 count in Game 1 on Monday night behind 38 saves from Jeremy Swayman. Only two teams have gone 6-0-0 in their first six matchups of a season against Florida, those clubs being the 2006-07 Atlanta Thrashers and the 2009-10 Washington Capitals.

“I thought our effort was good,” Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said. “I thought we were physical. I don’t think our execution was close to where it needs to be.”

Maybe so, but Swayman being in the zone solves a lot of problems.

If he starts Game 2, it’ll be his seventh consecutive start — which would be the longest by any Bruins goaltender since Tuukka Rask started the last 11 games of the 2020-21 season. Swayman has a 1.42 GAA in seven playoff games this season.

“You’ve got to give him credit,” Panthers forward Sam Reinhart said. “You know, there’s always areas where you can try and make it more challenging on a goalie. And that’s certainly what we’re going to try and do moving forward.”


The Oilers face the Canucks in the first playoff series between two Canadian teams since 2022, when Edmonton beat archrival Calgary in five games to advance to the Western Conference final. Edmonton is favored, according to BetMGM Sportsbook, to beat Vancouver this time, too.

That’s likely because of how dominant Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl’s team looked in dispatching Los Angeles in five games in the first round. McDavid leads all playoff scorers with 12 points, Draisaitl has 10 and Edmonton went 5 for 12 on the power play and 10 for 10 on the penalty kill.

But the Canucks, coached by Jack Adams Award finalist Rick Tocchet, are no slouch, either. They overcame losing Vezina Trophy finalist goaltender Thatcher Demko and backup Casey DeSmith to injury in beating Nashville, with rookie Arturs Silovs stepping in and stopping 75 of the 80 shots he faced.


AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno contributed to this report.


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