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The Bruins-Panthers prepare for Game 2. The Canucks-Oilers ready to open their series

The Bruins-Panthers prepare for Game 2. The Canucks-Oilers ready to open their series

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Panthers’ season can’t end Wednesday night. This isn’t a playoff game, the Boston Bruins can’t knock them out and no matter what, there will be a flight to Massachusetts on Thursday and another game there on Friday.

So it’s not a must-have.

The Panthers might think otherwise.

Game 2 of Panthers-Bruins is Wednesday night, as Boston looks to take a 2-0 lead in the NHL’s second-round playoff series. Florida has been down 2-0 in the playoffs five times in its history and has failed to win any of the playoff games – the Panthers were swept by Colorado in the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals, swept by New Jersey in the first round in 2000, lost in six games to Tampa Bay in the 2021 first round, was swept by the Lightning in the second round in 2022 and lost last year’s final to Vegas in five games.

“To my knowledge, no one has gone 16-0,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said Tuesday. “So everyone is going to suffer… you bounce back and you learn from it.”

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

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

“We’re heading into the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs,” Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl said. “We don’t care about what happened in the regular season. And I bet they don’t either, as much as you think. We are a different team now. The controls will be tight, with two very good teams. The team that plays the best hockey will win.

The Oilers are hoping their regular season fortunes will change.

The Panthers desperately need the same thing to happen.

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

“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 what it should be.

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

If he starts Game 2, it will be his seventh straight start – which would be the longest for a Bruins goaltender since Tuukka Rask started the final 11 games of the 2020-21 season. Swayman has a 1.42 ERA in seven playoff games this season.

“You have to give him credit,” Panthers forward Sam Reinhart said. “You know, there are always areas where you can try to make it more difficult for a goalie. And that’s certainly what we’re going to try to do in the future.

EDMONTON AT VANCOUVER, Game 1, 10 p.m. (ESPN)

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

This is likely due to the team’s dominance of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in eliminating Los Angeles in five games in the first round. McDavid leads all playoff scorers with 12 points, Draisaitl has 10 and Edmonton was 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, aren’t left out either. They overcame losing Vezina Trophy finalist goaltender Thatcher Demko and backup Casey DeSmith to injury by beating Nashville, with rookie Arturs Silovs stepping in and stopping 75 of the 80 shots he faced.

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AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno contributed to this report.

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AP NHL Playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup And https://apnews.com/hub/nhl