The 1996 NHL Eastern Conference Quarterfinals between the Boston Bruins and the Florida Panthers is widely regarded as one of the most intense and exciting playoff series in NHL history. This series was filled with thrilling moments, incredible performances, and a level of physicality that is rarely seen in the modern game.
The Bruins finished the regular season as the second seed in the Eastern Conference, while the Panthers were the seventh seed. However, despite being the lower seed, the Panthers were a tough opponent for the Bruins, and they quickly took control of the series.
The Panthers won the first two games of the series, both of which were played in Boston. The Bruins responded by winning the next two games in Florida, setting up a dramatic Game 5 back in Boston.
The fifth game of the series was a classic, with both teams playing physical hockey and trading blows throughout the game. The Panthers took the lead in the first period, but the Bruins responded with two goals in the second to take a 2-1 lead. The Panthers tied the game in the third period, setting the stage for overtime heroics.
In the first overtime period, Panthers forward Tom Fitzgerald scored a stunning goal to give Florida the victory and a 3-2 series lead. The Bruins were in trouble, and they needed a win in Game 6 to keep their season alive.
Game 6 was another intense, back-and-forth affair, with both teams desperate for a win. The Bruins took a 4-2 lead early in the third period, but the Panthers fought back, scoring two goals to tie the game and force overtime once again.
In the second overtime period, it was Bruins forward Greg Hawgood who scored the winning goal, sending the series to a deciding Game 7 in Florida.
The final game of the series was just as intense as the rest, with both teams putting everything they had into the game. In the end, it was the Panthers who emerged victorious, winning the game 1-0 and the series 4-3.
The 1996 NHL Eastern Conference Quarterfinals between the Bruins and the Panthers will always be remembered for its incredible displays of physicality, skill, and determination from both teams. It was truly a series for the ages, and a testament to the thrilling excitement that playoff hockey can provide.