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Florida Panthers Back In Vegas for First Time Since Cup Final



Florida panthers
Members of the Florida Panthers watch as the Vegas Golden Knights celebrate winning the Stanley Cup following Game 5 of the Final at T-Mobile Arena on June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

The Florida Panthers were back at the scene of the crime Wednesday afternoon, practicing at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for the first time since losing the Stanley Cup Final to the Golden Knights some seven months ago.

The team entered the arena the same way they did back then, were back in the same visitors’ locker room they quietly moved out of as quickly as possible following that disappointing — and dispirited — 9-3 loss in Game 5.

On the ice, it would have been hard not to look around and remember moments from those three games in Vegas which ended what had been such an unbelievable run.

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It would also have been hard to miss that huge black and gold ‘Stanley Cup Champions’ banner which hangs high above the arena.

Tonight, the Panthers and Golden Knights face each other in Vegas once again.

Florida not only lost all three games of the Finals in Vegas, but it was outscored 21-7 in the process.

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“These are big games and I think they mean a little bit extra for us,” Sam Bennett said on Wednesday. “We’re not going to worry about that too much. But I am sure we’re going to come out with a lot of jump, a lot of fire. It is another big game for us.’’

This will not be the first time the two have met on the ice as Vegas came to Sunrise just before Christmas.

The Panthers won 4-2 in a game which got quite cantankerous as the day went along.

The most memorable moment from the game came when Ryan Lomberg dropped Keegan Kolesar with a punch.

Florida panthers

Keegan Kolesar and Ryan Lomberg fight during the first period of the Panthers 4-2 win over the Golden Knights on Dec. 23 in Sunrise. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Kolesar, one may remember, fractured Matthew Tkachuk’s sternum with a clean hit at center ice during Game 3.

He also was caught on the bench calling the Panthers ‘pretenders’ during the Final.

At the end of the game on Dec. 23, Vegas defenseman Alex Pietrangelo went after Tkachuk, leading to Bennett and William Karlsson.

All four players were tossed, as was Aaron Ekblad.

The officials ran out the remainder of the clock.

Tonight, there will a fresh 60 on the board.

The Panthers come into the game riding a five-game winning streak which started against the Golden Knights.

Of course, Florida had won five straight going into Game 1 of the Final in Vegas.

“Our game is rally good right now so I don’t think we want to change anything,” Bennett said. “This is a tough building to play in, we know they’re going to come out flying. Again, our start is going to be key and we have to be ready right from the puck drop.”



  • When: Thursday, 10 p.m.
  • Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • 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, NHL app
  • Season Series (Panthers Lead 1-0) — At Florida: Panthers 4, Knights 2 (Dec. 23). At Vegas: Thursday.
  • Last Regular Season: Even 1-1
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Golden Knights lead 6-4-1
  • Postseason History — 2023 Stanley Cup Final: Vegas d. Florida 4-1
  • Up Next for the Florida Panthers: Saturday at Colorado, 4 p.m.

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