BOSTON – The Florida Panthers are heading back to the Eastern Conference Final following a 2-1 win over the Boston Bruins in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at TD Garden on Friday.

Looking back at the back-and-forth battle that featured impressive goaltending at both ends of the ice, the biggest save of the series arguably came from Aleksander Barkov.

With the score tied 1-1 and the Bruins on the power play with less than three minutes left on the clock in regulation of Game 6, the Panthers superstar captain dropped to one knee to rob sniper David Pastrnak of a surefire goal with a clutch block.

Reading the play perfectly, Barkov got a piece of the shot with the palm of his left glove.

“He saved a goal, saved the game,” goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky said.

Briefly leaving the ice after the block, Barkov returned just in time to see Gustav Forsling beat Jeremy Swayman on a rebound to lock in the 2-1 win for the Panthers with 1:33 left.

Paul Maurice aptly described the entire sequence of events as a “roller coaster.”

“You want to talk about the highs and lows of emotions on the bench,” the Panthers head coach said exuberantly. “That’s a gaping net and a legitimate block. Then it’s ‘Oh my God, did he break something? He’s off the bench.’ You don’t hear anything. At that point, he makes the block and then we end up scoring the goal. It’s a little bit of chaos down there.”

As it always is in the playoffs, the Panthers thrive on chaos.

But in the biggest moments, Barkov remains calm.

In addition to leading the Panthers with eight points (three goals, five assists) in the series against the Bruins, the 28-year-old center also posted 16 hits, nine takeaways (increasing his playoff-leading total to 18) and four blocked shots while winning 58.3% of his faceoffs.

In Games 2 and 4, he scored the game-winning goal.

“I don’t really even have words for what he’s doing for our team right now,” teammate Matthew Tkachuk said. “He’s playing the best hockey in the world right now. He’s the best player in the world right now. Both ends of the ice, he’s been unbelievable. That shot block just shows you, too. He’s scored all the goals, he’s made the great plays, he had the puck the whole series, but that block shows you the completion of his game. Save of the game.”

Thanks to that block, the Panthers are now headed to the Big Apple

Reaching the Eastern Conference Final for the second straight season and third time in franchise history, the Panthers will kick off their series against the New York Rangers with Game 1 at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET.

Just like he did on his big block, Barkov believes the Panthers are ready to do whatever it takes to get back to the Stanley Cup Final for a second crack at lifting Lord Stanley’s Cup.

“I think any block shot, in playoffs especially, is big,” said Barkov, as humble as he is talented. “Our guys sacrifice everything for that. It’s fun to watch and fun to be a part of this team.”

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