‘Best save I’ve ever seen’: Sergei Bobrovsky’s dazzling save gets national attention

FORT LAUDERDALE — Sergei Bobrovsky saved his way into Panthers fans’ hearts during Florida’s Stanley Cup Final run last year. The playoff magic appears to have carried into 2024.

Bobrovsky made a diving, backhanded save across the face of his goal to prevent a sure Tampa Bay score and keep the Panthers tied with the Lightning late in the second period. Florida would go on to win 3-2 in overtime.

The improbable highlight made its way around the sports world quickly. ESPN called it the “save of the playoffs so far.” Barstool Sports’ Twitter account said, “There’s no more denying aliens have already made contact on Earth after witnessing this Sergei Bobrovsky save.” The popular Art But Make It Sports social media account compared it to a 15th-century painting.

“It’s just everywhere,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said. “You can’t open your computer, turn on the TV, without seeing it 10 times.”

Panthers forward Vladimir Tarasenko summed it up succinctly.

“It’s the best save I’ve ever seen in my life in a game,” Tarasenko said.

Center Anton Lundell agreed.

“That was pretty sick, right?” Lundell said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a similar save like that. It’s probably one of the best saves I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Maurice was clear: Bobrovsky’s save came from skill, not just luck.

“People say it would be a lucky save,” Maurice said. “That’s a lifetime of working your (butt) off and the ability to know where your body is so that, mentally, you wouldn’t quit on the play, that you would stay and think you still had a chance to stop that puck. The desperation is the most beautiful part about that.”

The Panthers goalie went 36-17-4 during the season with a 2.37 goals against average, which was third in the NHL. He has allowed four goals in two games in the postseason.

“I sense an ease and a peace about him that’s different even last year, possibly, at this time,” Maurice said. “What he did last year for our team and then really what he’s done this year with Anthony (Stolarz). Certainly, he feels appreciated because we appreciate him. He knows how important he’s been to us. … I love the connection; I feel the fans chanting his name. I don’t think Bob processes it at all, but I think that’s an awesome tell for how important he’s become to the fans and to our team.”

Maurice said he believes all the attention Bobrovsky’s save can help grow the sport in South Florida.

“I think it’s fantastic for down here,” Maurice said. “There’s probably a number of kids in the driveway this weekend that will all want to play goal for the first time. For me, that’s how it happens. They see something kind of magical; they all go and try it, right? Then they’ll have five kids and there’ll be a street hockey game going somewhere and everybody’s going to want to be Bobrovsky. They’ll be flipping around in the net, trying to do the spin-around, the kick saves.”