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The many-worlds interpretation is a theory that seeks to answer the big conundrum of quantum systems seeming to exist in every possible state simultaneously. In traditional theories, observing the wave function causes it to "collapse" into a single position, all the superposed possibilities settling into one. The cat is either dead, or it's not. But MWI holds that the wave function itself—which can only be described mathematically, in terms of probabilities—is objectively real, and that every possible outcome does indeed exist, and, crucially, that each outcome happens in its own universe—creates its own universe. In this universe the cat is alive; in another, identical to ours in every way but the one, the cat is dead.

Thus, there may be a universe where Sergei Bobrovsky did not make this save on Matt Dumba.

Maybe one of Bobrovsky's neurons doesn't fire, and he's a millisecond slow in reacting. Maybe a single quark in a proton in the nucleus of an atom of carbon in Dumba's stick takes on a different spin, and he makes different contact, and the puck goes above or beneath Bobrovsky's arm. Regardless of how it happens, it's not a huge leap to picture the knock-on effects of a Lightning goal there in a 2-2 game. Everything else plays out the same, and Tampa wins in regulation. Even more speculatively: With the series tied and home-ice advantage and momentum both in their pocket, the battle-tested Lightning settle down, while the Panthers' playoff aura is broken. Bobrovsky turns back into a pumpkin. Kucherov gets going. The rest of the series, to paraphrase a big loser, develops not necessarily to Florida's advantage. The Tampa mini-dynasty, not dead until I see it in a coffin, lives to fight another round, and enjoys in that universe yet another parade; the Panthers suffer a huge first-round disappointment. Entire seasons can hinge on single plays, and it's easy to imagine this being one of them.

Because Bobrovsky did make that save. Somehow.

Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

Bobrovsky's downright Hašekian lunge preserved the tie, allowing Carter Verhaeghe—who else?—to score the OT winner and give the Panthers a 2-0 series lead. It was one of Bobrovsky's 21 saves on the night, many of them just as crucial if not as flashy, coming in a 48-minute drought between Florida goals. But it was this one that dropped jaws and had Cats coach Paul Maurice "using unkind language," as he put it.

"My vantage point was the bench, and I was in shock," added Aaron Ekblad, because you don't often see a goalmouth that wide open—or a goalie's nameplate—without a goal swiftly following. But Bobrovsky's backward dive, with a veteran's presence of mind and a healthy dose of desperation, denied Dumba. “I tried to throw as much body as possible,” Bobrovsky said.

It brought nothing but more frustration for the Lightning, who despite playing pretty good hockey for two games, and getting two excellent performances in net from Andrei Vasilevskiy, find themselves in an 0-2 hole. That's the way the Cup crumbles, sometimes. But these Lightning have been here before, and know that winning in the playoffs is about playing the cards you're dealt, and sometimes that includes quickly moving on from a save that'll play on highlight reels for years to come. “Call it skill, call it luck, call it whatever you want,” Steven Stamkos said. Added Brayden Point, "Things like that happen. Guys make plays, guys make good saves, and you’ve just got to keep going." It'd be easier to do that in a universe where they're not down two games, but that's not the universe we live in.

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