When the Boston Bruins took a 3-1 series lead against the Florida Panthers, it seemed like the team that set NHL records for regular season wins and points would easily earn their place in second round of the playoffs.

This was without taking into account the character of the opposing players.

“No one doubted we’d be back here,” Panthers forward Anthony Duclair said. We knew we could come back to the show and we did. »

The Panthers forced the presentation of an ultimate game against the winners of the Presidents’ Trophy and big favorites to win the Stanley Cup. Another streak will come to an end in Game 7 on Sunday as the defending champions Colorado Avalanche staved off road elimination to the Seattle Kraken.

“The winner will go on his way,” summed up Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen.

And the loser will be eliminated, he could no doubt have added.

Both the Bruins and the Avalanche are the favorites according to bookmakers, but the pressure will be on both teams.

The Panthers are hoping for their best run since reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 1996.

“We’ve been playing playoff hockey since February or March,” Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov said. We had to fight to stay in the race. So this is nothing new for us. »

The Panthers survived overtime in Game 5, avoiding elimination for the first time. They then erased two one-goal deficits in the third period before winning Game 6.

“We’ve tried to have that approach throughout the season in hopes of being able to close the playoffs when we have the chance,” Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark said. This is just another opportunity to make it happen. »

Experience works in favor of the Bruins. Captain Patrice Bergeron will be playing his 14th career final game, David Krejci his 12th, and Brad Marchand his 11th. They have all won six times in this situation.

For the Panthers, Marc Staal played in seven number seven games, Eric Staal in five, Matthew Tkachuk and Brandon Montour in one each.

For their part, the Kraken wasted an opportunity to eliminate the Avalanche in front of their fans. He will have to win in Denver if he intends to cause a surprise.

“We have to approach it like any other game,” defenseman Vince Dunn said. Every game is important. You have to be focused that you are on the ice. »

Several core members who helped the Avalanche triumph last spring are back. They spoke about the importance of mental toughness on their 2022 journey and they walked the talk with a convincing win in Seattle.

They will have to do it again on Sunday.

“Whenever we’ve faced adversity, we’ve responded well by taking it one step at a time,” said defenseman Cale Makar, playoff MVP last year. We showed character in Game 6. We hope it gives confidence to the group. »

The winner of this series will face the Dallas Stars in the second round. The Stars eliminated the Minnesota Wild in six games.