The 8-Seed Florida Panthers Are Eastern Conference Champions

What a game! What a series! For the first time since 1996, the Florida Panthers are the champions of the Eastern Conference.

There are so many angles from this game and series to begin with that it’s hard to put a wrap on it. So we’ll start with the end — again. Matthew Tkachuk scored the game-winning goal for the third time in the series. The marker game with four seconds left in regulation, which SportsNet reported tied the NHL record for the latest series-winning goal in regulation in postseason history. In 1942, Nick Metz of the Toronto Maple Leafs won in Game 6 of 1942 Stanley Cup Semi-Final against the Rangers with four ticks left on the clock.

Remember: last summer, the Panthers and Flames made one of the biggest trades in recent memory that landed Tkachuk in Florida. Calgary received Jonathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar, Cole Schwindt and a first-round pick in the 2025 draft for Tkachuk, and Florida told the world they were making the move to be a better “playoff team.” This from the team that won the Presidents Trophy last year.

The Florida Panthers as a franchise had never swept a playoff series — until Wednesday night. There are now four remaining organizations in the NHL that have never swept a postseason series: the Senators, Wild, Coyotes and Kraken.

Sergei Bobrovsky has been ridiculous the entire postseason and is my pick for the Conn Smythe at this point. He has been so incredible throughout the playoffs — and he wasn’t Florida’s Game 1 starter against Boston in the first round. Consider the heater the Panthers have been on:

The Panthers can now head home (hung over at some point tomorrow morning, probably) and watch to see if the Vegas Golden Knights can finish off a sweep of their own in Dallas tomorrow night.

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written by

Tab Bamford has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks for almost two decades. He joined Bleacher Nation as the lead Blackhawks writer in May 2022. Tab is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and is the author of two books about the Blackhawks: "100 Things Blackhawks Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" (Triumph Books) and "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter/X/Instagram/Threads at @The1Tab

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