Thu. Jul 25th, 2024


Sam Reinhart celebrates what turned out to be the Stanley Cup-winning goal in the second period. (Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

For the first time in history, the Florida Panthers are Stanley Cup champions.

Florida secured a 2-1 Game 7 thriller on Monday to defeat the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Final, 4-3. The win staved off a historic collapse after the Oilers rallied from a 3-0 series deficit to tie the series at 3-3.

The first period got off to a scorching start. The Panthers secured the game’s first power play on a high-sticking penalty by Warren Foegele less than three minutes in. It didn’t directly convert to a power-play goal, but Florida’s Carter Verhaeghe broke the scoreless tie seconds after it ended.

Just as Edmonton went back to full strength, Florida’s Evan Rodrigues fired a slapshot from the left wall that missed the net wide right. But Verhaeghe knocked the puck from the air with his stick and snuck it past Stewart Skinner for a 1-0 Florida lead.

The goal with 15:33 left in the period gave Florida its first lead of the series since it finished Game 3 with a 4-3 win. It was short-lived.

Just 2:17 later, Edmonton’s Mattias Janmark tied the game on a breakaway goal on a sensational assist from Cody Ceci.

After a Florida turnover, Ceci corralled the puck behind the Edmonton goal line then fired it up ice through three Florida defenders. Janmark secured the pass ahead of the Florida blue line and attacked the net without a defender in his his way. He deked Florida goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and sent a wrist shot into the left side of the net.

The goal tied the game at 1-1 and piled on to a trend that plagued the Panthers as the Oilers rallied to tie the series from a 3-0 deficit. The goal was the fifth straight for Edmonton in the series on breakaway opportunities.

But those opportunities dried up as the game went into the second period tied at 1-1. The Oilers controlled the puck through much of the second, but struggled to convert that control into scoring chances. Then 15-plus minutes into the second, the Panthers turned an Oilers scoring opportunity into one of their own.

Foegele threatened a 2-1 Oilers lead with a shot from the right goal line on a crowded net. But Florida’s Dmitry Kulikov poked the puck away, and the Panthers secured it to go on the attack. Center Sam Reinhart converted the opportunity on the other end with a slapshot from the right wing that found the back of the net for a 2-1 Panthers lead, sending an eager Florida home crowd into a frenzy.

The second period ended without another goal, and the Panthers entered the third period with history on their side. Teams leading Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final had won 13 times in 14 previous chances. The Panthers had won 25 straight games when leading after two.

Florida’s defense ensured that the Panthers wouldn’t break the trend. A unit that defined the series en route to a 3-0 lead was back in control. The Panthers limited looks for Connor McDavid continued to keep All-Star Leon Draisaitl in check.

McDavid’s best scoring chance arrived with 7:05 left in the game. But he lost control of the puck directly in front of the net, and the Oilers failed to get it past Bobrovsky.

Edmonton ramped up the pressure on Bobrovsky in the final minutes or regulation, but couldn’t get the puck past the Florida goaltender on multiple chances.

But Edmonton couldn’t break through to tie the game even after pulling Skinner in the game’s final minutes.

The win is the first in three trips to the Stanley Cup Final for the Panthers since their inception in 1993-94. They first played for the Cup in 1996, their third year in the NHL, but were swept by the Colorado Avalanche. They made it back last season, the first under head coach Paul Maurice, but fell to the Vegas Golden Knights in five games.

The Panthers didn’t experience any sort of hangover this season after a long 2023 playoff run. They improved by 10 wins and 18 points to win the Atlantic Division title and finish third in the Eastern Conference during the regular season.

In the playoffs, the Panthers knocked off the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games and the Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers in six games to reach the Cup Final against the Oilers. Now, for the first time in franchise history, they’re Stanley Cup champions.

Live34 updates

  • “It’s not a dream anymore,” Matthew Tkachuk said after the game on the ESPN broadcast. “It’s reality.”

  • The celebration begins in Florida.

  • Florida Panthers win the Stanley Cup!

    It’s the first Cup in franchise history for the Panthers.

  • Via NHL stats: There have been 14 tying goals in the final 10 minutes of any potential Stanley Cup-clinching game (last: Pat Maroon at 53:48 in Game 4 of 2021 SCF). The latest was by Maple Leafs forward Tod Sloan (59:28 in Game 5 of 1951 SCF).

  • Oilers can’t capitalize on an incredible chance in front of the net.

  • The Oilers’ penalty kill does its job, denying the Panthers after an Evan Bouchard high-sticking penalty on Eetu Luostarinen.

  • Via NHL stats: There have been only two game-tying goals in the third period of a Game 7 in Stanley Cup Final history: Sweeney Schriner at 7:47 of the third period for the 1942 Maple Leafs and by Murray Armstrong at 8:16 of the third period for the 1945 Red Wings. Schriner’s 1942 Maple Leafs won, while Armstrong’s 1945 Red Wings lost – both in series that were forced to a Game 7 after one team took a 3-0 series lead.

  • According to NHL stats, teams that take a lead into the third period of Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final are 13-1 all-time.

  • End 2nd period: Panthers 2, Oilers 1

    The Panthers now lead thanks to Sam Reinhart’s goal late in the second period, and Florida owns the advantage over the Oilers 17-15 in shots on goal.

  • Panthers take a 2-1 lead

    After some impressive control by Edmonton, the Panthers’ Sam Reinhart gives his team an edge with just under five minutes remaining in the second period.

  • Edmonton heads to the power play after a questionable tripping call on Tkachuk, but they ultimately come up empty.

  • End 1st period: Oilers, Panthers tied up 1-1

    The Panthers’ Carter Verhaeghe struck first to put the home team ahead, but the Oilers’ Mattias Janmark had an answer just a couple minutes later to knot things up at 1. Florida has a slight shots-on-goal advantage over Edmonton, 7-6. That’s where we sit at the end of the first period.

  • And the Oilers tie it up!

    It didn’t take long for Edmonton to respond, with Mattias Janmark evening it up 1-1.

  • Carter Verhaeghe gets the Panthers going

  • Panthers strike first on the power play to go up 1-0

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#Stanley #Cup #Final #Panthers #win #Game #thriller #Oilers #secure #championship #franchise #history

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