Florida Panthers forward Carter Verhaeghe ended the greatest season in NHL history on Sunday night. His wrist shot found its way past Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman in overtime to advance Florida to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
It shocked many hockey fans, as Boston was the odds-on favorite to win the Stanley Cup. Furthermore, the Bruins held a 3-1 series lead heading into Game 5 of this series.
However, Game 5 is precisely the point when everything fell apart. Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark turned the puck over in overtime, leading to a loss in that game. Florida then went on to win the next two games.
What shouldn't surprise hockey fans is the man that ended Boston's season. Verhaeghe has long been a clutch player in the NHL, and a stat shared by NHL.com writer Tom Gulitti put it all in perspective.
The Panthers have won eight playoff games in the past two seasons. In five of those eight wins, Verhaeghe scored the game-winning goal. It's even more remarkable when you consider that Verhaeghe only has 10 career playoff goals.
The Panthers forward helped Florida advance past the first round for just the third time in franchise history. Florida advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1996 and to the second round just last season.
In the second round, the Panthers will face the Toronto Maple Leafs. Toronto advanced after defeating Verhaeghe's former team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, in six games.
Regardless of how the rest of the playoffs go, Verhaeghe's stock as a playoff performer continues to rise. Perhaps this goal is the catalyst of a deep playoff run for this resilient Panthers team.