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Winner of Panthers-Bruins Game 7 debated by NHL.com

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The Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers will play Game 7 of the Eastern Conference First Round at TD Garden in Boston on Sunday (6:30 p.m. ET; TNT, CBC, SN, TVAS, NESN, BSFL).

The winner will advance to the Eastern Conference Second Round and play the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Bruins (65-12-5) would host the Maple Leafs (50-21-11) while the Panthers (42-32-8) would start on the road.

The Panthers won 7-5 in Game 6 in Florida on Friday to even the best-of-7 series after trailing 3-1.

Boston is 15-14 all-time in Game 7, including 14-9 at home. The Bruins lost their most recent, 3-2 at the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round last season.

[RELATED: Complete Bruins vs. Panthers series coverage]

Florida is 1-1 in Game 7, having defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 on the road in the 1996 Eastern Conference Final before a 3-2 double-overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils in the 2012 conference quarterfinals.

Florida coach Paul Maurice is 3-0 in Game 7.

The numbers can be applied to argue for each team in a do-or-die situation.

So, we asked the nine staffers who have covered the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for their opinion on who will win Game 7.

Bruins

As the person who has attended all six games of this series — not to mention watching the Bruins all season — I’m at a loss. The Bruins haven’t looked like the team they’ve been all season in almost any games in this series. Goalie Linus Ullmark has looked shaky (and the Bruins could swap to Jeremy Swayman). Coach Jim Montgomery has made some head-scratching decisions but, somehow, I still have faith in this team turning it around. Maybe it’s that they’ve been here so much — Boston is 4-2 since 2010 in Game 7s after losing Game 6 when they could have eliminated their opponent — or maybe it’s that I can’t see captain Patrice Bergeron going down with this team, in this Game 7, in what could be the final game of his NHL career. I’m not as confident as I once was, but I’m going with the Bruins. — Amalie Benjamin, staff writer

I picked the Bruins to win the Stanley Cup, so I’m not giving up on them now. Look, the Panthers have shown a lot of heart, and they’ve poked holes in the Bruins’ cloak of invincibility. It wouldn’t surprise me if Matthew Tkachuk scores another huge goal to finish off the upset. The Panthers have no pressure; the Bruins must be feeling a ton. But Boston had a record-breaking regular season for a reason and odds are, at home, in front of their fans, desperate to win, knowing they can win the whole thing, the Bruins will put their best performance on the ice and move on to the second round. This team has found a way to win time after time in situation after situation this season. I’m betting it will do so again. — Nicholas J. Cotsonika, columnist

I picked the Bruins to win the Stanley Cup, and I’m sticking with them. Boston will win Game 7 for the same reasons I chose them to win the Cup — they have too much talent and too much veteran experience to let it slip away. Brad Marchand is leading the way for Boston against Florida with 10 points (four goals, six assists), including four assists in a 7-5 loss Friday. Marchand has played in Game 7 on 10 occasions, winning six, and has seven points (three goals, four assists). Patrice Bergeron has appeared in a Game 7 a whopping 13 times, winning six, and has 11 points (six goals, five assists). David Krejci has 11 Game 7 appearances (6-5) and has 10 assists. Boston had a historic season, setting a new regular-season record for wins (65) and points (135). They’ll work to avoid joining the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings and the 2018-19 Tampa Bay Lightning, who each held the previous NHL regular-season record of 62 wins, to not win the Stanley Cup. — William Douglas, staff writer

Credit to the Panthers for their resilience and defiance, led by Matthew Tkachuk, to come back from a 3-1 series deficit to get to this point. Tkachuk is the major difference for the Panthers, who were too deferential in being swept by the Tampa Bay Lightning (two-time defending Stanley Cup champions at the time) last season. Florida has not backed down against Boston, which was the best regular-season team in NHL history in terms of wins (65) and points (135). But the Bruins were that good during the regular season for a reason and, after losing their way the past two games, I think they will regroup and find a way to win Game 7 at home. Every team that wins faces adversity at some point and this is the Bruins’ time to overcome it. —Tom Gulitti, staff writer 

OK, I never believed this series would go seven games. Nothing against the Panthers, who have played the David role to Boston’s Goliath in stellar fashion, but I still see the Bruins winning in Game 7. Part of it is just seeing how incredible the Bruins were throughout the regular season. That doesn’t just disappear in the playoffs. Do you have lapses? Sure. Off nights? Absolutely. The Bruins didn’t have many of either in the regular season and they’re seeing them now, but I still think they right the ship. I know winning the Presidents’ Trophy can sometimes be the kiss of death but as someone who covered the Chicago Blackhawks who won that and went on to win the Stanley Cup in 2013, this Bruins team reminds me a lot of that group. — Tracey Myers, staff writer

I figured this wasn’t going to be an easy test for the Bruins, at least physically. That’s been the case. Any time you have Matthew Tkachuk, Sam Bennett and Radko Gudas coming at you shift after shift, it’s going to take a toll. That isn’t going to change in Game 7, especially in and around the Bruins net where the Panthers have made goalie Linus Ullmark look like anything but a Vezina Trophy winner. What points the needle in Boston’s favor for me is captain Patrice Bergeron, if healthy. The forward hoisted the Stanley Cup in 2011, and if anyone knows how to calm the nerves of a jittery team that has lost two consecutive games, it’s him. Of course, that’s not going to matter if Boston doesn’t get more consistent goaltending. — Mike Zeisberger, staff writer

Video: Panthers, Bruins all set for epic Game 7 in Boston

Panthers

I find it hard to believe the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Bruins are in this position, but they suddenly appear vulnerable against what appears to be a more confident and energetic team with nothing to lose. I’m taking Florida to win. It basically comes down to the fact I have more confidence in goalie Sergei Bobrovsky than I do in Linus Ullmark right now. The Panthers have succeeded in two must-win scenarios already, so why not a third on the road in Boston in a winner-take-all matchup? Ullmark has allowed four or more goals three times in this series after conceding four goals or more just twice during the regular season. Boston had the best regular-season record in NHL history, finished 43 points ahead of Florida in the standings and couldn’t hold one-goal leads on two separate occasions in the third period of Game 6. The Panthers have the momentum. — Mike G. Morreale, staff writer

Paul Maurice is the reason the Panthers will author one of the great upsets in the history of the NHL. The Panthers coach has been here, done this. Boston coach Jim Montgomery has not. It is a huge advantage in games like this. Like players, coaches run hot and cold and the 56-year-old is running hot. His decision to switch to Sergei Bobrovsky has changed the tenor of the series and he has out-coached Montgomery thoroughly throughout the past two games. The 53-year-old Montgomery will be coaching in his 20th NHL playoff game and is on his heels, likely forced into making a goaltending decision that will define his legacy and that of his team. I am going to go with experience in this game and Florida will prove my pick of the Bruins reaching the Stanley Cup Final to be ill-advised. — Shawn P. Roarke, senior director of editorial 

Every instinct I have says it has to be the Bruins. But every instinct I had before the series started said it had to be the Bruins. When they were tied 1-1 after struggling in Game 2, it was Bruins. When they went up 3-1 after winning two games in Florida, there was no question it was Bruins in five. Well here we are in Game 7 and the Bruins have more questions than the Panthers. I’m not sold anymore. So, it’s Panthers in seven. They’re playing better. They have the good mojo going. They have the biggest difference maker in the series in Matthew Tkachuk. They have, gasp, less of a doubt about their goaltending right now. And still hardly anybody expects them to win. Don’t tell me they have nothing to lose. They do. They have Game 7 to lose. But they won’t. They don’t have the burden of history weighing them down. Tkachuk scores and the Panthers get the job done. — Dan Rosen, senior writer

 

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LeBron Saves Team USA in Thrilling Exhibition Against South Sudan at O2 Arena

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LONDON — In what could have been one of the most monumental upsets in international basketball history, Team USA narrowly escaped with a 101-100 victory over a spirited South Sudan team at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday night. This exhibition match, serving as a tune-up for the 2024 Olympics, showcased the rapid rise of South Sudanese basketball and the indomitable spirit of the American team led by LeBron James.

The atmosphere at the O2 Arena was electric, with fans witnessing a game that turned out to be far more competitive than expected. South Sudan, a team composed largely of refugees and players from the diaspora, pushed the heavily favored Americans to their limits.

First Half Highlights:

  • South Sudan came out firing on all cylinders, building a surprising 16-point lead in the second quarter.
  • Team USA struggled with their three-point shooting, missing 12 of their first 13 attempts from beyond the arc.

Despite the odds, South Sudan’s players, many of whom have overcome significant personal and professional challenges, played with remarkable cohesion and determination. Their performance was a testament to the rapid progress the team has made under the guidance of former NBA star Luol Deng.

With the game hanging in the balance, LeBron James demonstrated why he remains one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Benched at the start of the third quarter, James returned to the floor with a determination that was palpable.

Key Moments:

  • Third Quarter: Anthony Davis’ defensive prowess helped shrink the deficit. LeBron’s return brought stability and focus back to Team USA.
  • Final Minute: With just 20 seconds left, JT Thor of South Sudan scored over LeBron, giving his team a one-point lead.
  • Game-Winning Shot: LeBron drove to the basket, scoring the decisive layup with eight seconds remaining.

South Sudan’s journey to this point has been nothing short of inspirational. The country gained independence from Sudan in 2011, and the basketball program, still in its infancy, has quickly become a source of national pride.

Notable Contributions:

  • Carlik Jones: Delivered a triple-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists.
  • Wenyen Gabriel: LeBron’s former teammate with the Lakers, contributed 11 points.
  • Marial Shayok: Led South Sudan with 24 points.

The team’s formation and rise have been spearheaded by Luol Deng, who played a pivotal role in recruiting and funding the program. His efforts have culminated in South Sudan qualifying for the Olympics, marking a historic achievement for the young nation.

Stephen Curry: “Wild game. They played really intense. It was nice to see how we responded. LeBron with a great finish down the stretch.”

Steve Kerr: “The whole team was embarrassed at halftime. We were challenged today, and it was good for us to feel that now. This was a reminder that we need to bring our best every game.”

Luol Deng: Expressed immense pride in his team’s performance, emphasizing the significance of their journey and the obstacles they have overcome.

This exhibition game was more than just a pre-Olympic warm-up. It highlighted the potential for underdog stories in sports and underscored the global reach and impact of basketball. Team USA, despite the narrow escape, was reminded of the importance of every game and the challenges that lie ahead.

South Sudan, on the other hand, has cemented its place on the international stage, showcasing that with determination and the right support, even the newest teams can compete with the best in the world.

As both teams prepare for the Olympics, this game at the O2 Arena will be remembered not only for its thrilling finish but also for the remarkable stories of resilience and ambition that played out on the court.

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UFC Vegas 94: Amanda Lemos vs. Virna Jandiroba – Main Event Recap

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In a thrilling main event at UFC Vegas 94, strawweights Amanda Lemos and Virna Jandiroba faced off on Saturday night. After an evenly matched first round, Jandiroba secured a dramatic submission victory in the second round, just moments before the bell.

Fight Summary:

  • First Round: The opening round was highly competitive, with both fighters showcasing their skills and maintaining a close contest.
  • Second Round: In the final seconds of the second round, Jandiroba managed to secure a submission, forcing Lemos to tap out. The win marks an impressive fourth consecutive victory for Jandiroba.

Post-Fight Remarks:

  • In her post-fight interview inside the Octagon, Jandiroba confidently called out UFC President Dana White, declaring, “Dana, I’m the next one. Dana, I’m your next champion.”

Future Implications:

  • With this victory, Jandiroba has positioned herself as a strong contender for the strawweight title. Tatiana Suarez, who was the rightful next contender for Weili Zhang, has been sidelined due to an injury. Jandiroba’s current four-fight win streak and her dominant performance at UFC Vegas 94 make a compelling case for her title shot.

Stay tuned for more updates as the UFC strawweight division continues to evolve, and see if Virna Jandiroba will indeed become the next challenger for the championship belt.

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Jake Paul vs. Mike Perry: Fight Night Updates

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Jake Paul is back in the ring, and he’s promising fireworks as he takes on former UFC star Mike Perry at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. The fight will be broadcast live on DAZN. Originally, Paul was set to fight Mike Tyson, but Perry stepped in after Tyson suffered an injury.

Fight Details:

Jake Paul (9-1, 6 KOs)

  • Paul is coming off a first-round TKO of Ryan Bourland in March.
  • He has promised that Perry won’t survive the second round.
  • Paul is more experienced in boxing but still relatively new to the sport.

Mike Perry (0-1)

  • Perry, known as “Platinum,” brings over a decade of fighting experience, mainly in MMA and bare-knuckle fighting.
  • He believes Paul is still green in the fight business and intends to use his experience to pull off an upset.

Main Event:
Jake Paul vs. Mike Perry

Live Updates: Follow DAZN for all the live updates, results, and highlights from the Paul vs. Perry pay-per-view main card.

Main Card Results:

Amanda Serrano def. Stevie Morgan via TKO

  • Round 2, 0:38
    • Watch the finish

Lucas Bahdi def. H20 Sylve via knockout

  • Round 6, 2:27
    • Watch the finish

Corey Marksman def. Tony Aguilar via majority decision

  • Scores: 76-76, 77-75, 78-74

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. def. Uriah Hall via unanimous decision

  • Scores: 59-55, 59-55, 58-56
    • Recap

Stay tuned for the main event updates and see if Jake Paul can deliver on his promise of another highlight reel knockout or if Mike Perry will teach him a lesson and pull off a major upset.

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