LAS VEGAS — The Florida Panthers are unbothered despite heading into Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final down 1-0 to the Vegas Golden Knights.
After all, they have faced situations like this all year.
The heralded eight-seeded underdogs had their backs against the wall with eight games left in the regular season — and went 6-1-1 — and then came back from a 3-1 deficit in the first round against the Boston Bruins.
All while keeping the same attitude.
“I don’t think there is enough room for us to panic,” Radko Gudas said.
“We have all been in tough situations before. We’ve been out of the playoff picture for most of the season, so for us, it was ‘Don’t Panic’ since Game 35. I think we are just feeding off of what we’e been through this season and I think it did help us a lot in the way we prepare ourselves for the games.”
When they took the ice for morning skate on Monday morning the smiles and chuckles were noticeable as the Panthers kept trucking along towards their next challenge.
”We know we work hard enough and we know that’s not the problem,” captain Sasha Barkov said.
”I think the execution in the first game wasn’t there but we don’t think about that. We’re only thinking about the future and about the next game. So it was Game 1, we learned from it and now we’re ready for Game 2.”
The Panthers will have to go into tonight’s game against the Golden Knights without Eetu Luostarinen, who will be missing his second-straight game with a leg injury he suffered in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final.
Luostarinen became a staple in the Panthers’ forward core as a two-way standout who excelled in Florida’s forechecking system.
It was thought that Zac Dalpe would get a second consecutive game especially since Paul Maurice said pregame that ‘the opportunity was going to somebody and he made it him. But he didn’t just do it by having a good month. He became that man over the course of the year by working his ass off every day.
“He worked on all the details in the American Hockey League. He has became a leader down here. But he drives every day, he gets it done. That man has done everything you possibly can to be ready for an opportunity.”
But when time came for the lineups, Dalpe was scratched as the Panthers went with seven defenseman to sort of spread out the ice time.
Casey Fitzgerald gets in for Florida.
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
THE 2023 STANLEY CUP FINAL
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
GAME 2 (Vegas Leads 1-0)
- When: Monday, 8 p.m.
- Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
- TV: TNT
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM, WPOW 96.5 FM2, WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Betting odds — Golden Knights Favored: Money Line (-140); Puck line (-1.5, +190); Over/Under 5.5 (-120/+100). Series: Vegas favored -220.
- Series Schedule — Game 1: @Vegas 5, Florida 2; Game 2: Monday at Vegas, 8 (TNT); Game 3: Thursday at Florida, 8 (TNT); Game 4: Saturday at Florida, 8 (TNT); Game 5*:Tuesday June 13 at Vegas, 8 (TNT); Game 6*: Friday June 16 at Florida, 8 (TNT); Game 7*: Monday June 19 at Vegas, 8 (TNT). * – If Necessary
- 2022-23 Regular Season Series (Even 1-1): @Vegas 4, Florida 2 (Jan. 12); @Florida 2, Vegas 1 (March 7)
- All-time Regular Season Series: Golden Knights lead 6-3-1
- Postseason History: First meeting
- How They Got Here — Vegas: d. Winnipeg in 5, Edmonton in 6, Dallas in 6; Florida: d. Boston in 7, Toronto in 5, Carolina in 4.
PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP
23 Carter Verhaeghe // 16 Sasha Barkov // 10 Anthony Duclair
21 Nick Cousins // 9 Sam Bennett // 19 Matthew Tkachuk
94 Ryan Lomberg// 15 Anton Lundell // 13 Sam Reinhart
NONE // 12 Eric Staal // 6 Colin White
42 Gus Forsling // 5 Aaron Ekblad
18 Marc Staal // 62 Brandon Montour
28 Josh Mahura // 7 Radko Gudas
4 Casey Fitzgerald
72 Sergei Bobrovsky
34 Alex Lyon
Scratched: Mike Benning, Even Fitzpatrick, Givani Smith, Zac Dalpe, Lucas Carlsson, Connor Bunnaman, Grigori Denisenko, Patrick Giles, Mack Guzda, Aleksi Heponiemi, Matt Kiersted, Santtu Kinnunen, John Ludvig, Mackie Samsoskevich, Calle Sjalin
Injured: Patric Hornqvist (LTIR-concussion), Eetu Luostarinen (LBI)
PROJECTED VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS LINEUP
49 Ivan Barbashev // 9 Jack Eichel // 81 Jonathan Marchessault
21 Brett Howden // 20 Chandler Stephenson // 61 Mark Stone
19 Reilly Smith // 71 William Karlsson // 22 Mike Amadio
28 Will Carrier // 10 Nicolas Roy // 55 Keegan Kolesar
23 Alec Martinez // 7 Alex Pietrangelo
3 Brayden McNabb // 27 Shea Theodore
14 Nicolas Hague // 2 Zach Whitecloud
33 Adin Hill
32 Jonathan Quick