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2024 Stanley Cup Final

Florida Panthers Fall Flat with Stanley Cup in the Building



Panthers cup
Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins goes to check Florida defenseman Brandon Montour in the third period of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night.(Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire)

EDMONTON — In the first Stanley Cup Final closeout game in franchise history, the Florida Panthers uncharacteristically fell flat on their face.

The Edmonton Oilers crushed them on the rush, running up the score to 8-1 to force a Game 5 back in Sunrise.

As much as the Panthers hoped to hoist the Stanley Cup on Saturday night, the Oilers were more in tune to keep this series going.

Florida’s usually gridlocked defenses loosened up and it opened up the dam for Connor McDavid & Co. to run the Panthers — and the Stanley Cup — out of their building.

“It’s the first opportunity that we’ve had as a franchise really to feel the [past] two days — the excitement of it, the emotions of it,” coach Paul Maurice said.

“We’ll learn how to channel it. That’s all part of this process.

“Every new experience presents opportunities that you didn’t have. This was a good experience for us. We’re gonna work here over the next few days.”

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Did that excitement and the build up ahead of Game 4 of the Cup Final get in the heads of the Panthers?

The Cup is going to be in the building at some point anyway, so we have to be ready for that,” captain Sasha Barkov said. “And I don’t think it was a distraction for us. I don’t think so.”

But when looking at the on-ice product, it seemed to be.

Early on, the Panthers were trying to get the kill shot in on a power play and one mistake turned into a shorthanded Oilers rush the other way that put them down 1-0.

From there, they looked out of it.

“I think it was just more, we weren’t together as 5 as much as we were in previous games and yeah, they were flying all over the ice,” Matthew Tkachuk said. 

“So, you have to give a ton of credit to them. they played an unbelievable game. That’s kind of the biggest thing they’re known for is their rush game and their skill and making plays. Everybody, lines one through four and all six D, they were making some crazy great plays.’’

Of Edmonton’s eight goals, seven of them were off the rush and one was on a 5-on-3 power play.

Florida’s defense looked discombobulated while the offense was trying to force things that weren’t there.

Vladimir Tarasenko scored Florida’s lone goal off of a deflection of a Gus Forsling point shot 11:26 into the second period. That made it 2-1.

The Panthers had their best chance to swing the momentum their way down 2-1 with 7:52 to go in the second period, when Carter Verhaeghe received a cross-crease feed from Tkachuk.

Skinner sprawled out, flashed the leather and made a 10-bell save to snuff Verhaeghe out.

“I would suggest that usually the end result is just,’’ Maurice said. “I’m not sitting there going ‘Hey, we had some chances. If they just make good, it’s a different game.’ It doesn’t matter because all teams are going to have chances. Both teams are going to hit posts. We couldn’t stop the rush.”

Dylan Holloway cashed in on a rush chance less than two minutes later to put Edmonton up by a pair of goals and kill any momentum Florida had.

From there on, it was all Edmonton.

The Oilers scored two quick goals to start the second period and chased Sergei Bobrovsky out of the game 4:59 into the second period.

“He’d had enough,” Maurice said. “If you think you’re mounting a comeback, rarely does the goalie make a difference for you. There’s something that happens at the other end of the ice. He’s played an awful lot of hockey. My number on Bob’s probably five in general. That was the decision.”

The Oilers ran up the score — with McDavid scoring a goal and three assists while setting the NHL record for most assists in a postseason run in the process — and the Panthers walked away knowing they have another chance to close this thing out on Tuesday in Sunrise.

“I don’t believe in momentum at all. Because I would have been wrong at 3-0 to have that one happen,” Maurice said. “You just re-establish your game and you come back in the fight.

“I’ll fire up at least once cliche for you so you have something there: We came into Edmonton to get a split and we got what we needed, but there’s also reason for that. Most cliches have some merit to it. In general, things will be far more extreme outside your room than inside it. So at 3-nothing, we’re not sitting there getting the engravers out. We lost the game tonight. I’m pretty sure — I’ve got to check, possibly — but there’s going to be a Game 5.”

For More FHN Coverage of the Florida Panthers:

Panthers Lead Best of 7 Series 3-1
  • When: Tuesday, 8 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • National TV: ABC
  • Streaming: ESPN+/Hulu
  • Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Series Schedule, All Games 8 p.m. on ABC — Game 1: @Florida 3, Edmonton 0; Game 2: @Florida 4, Edmonton 1; Game 3: Florida 4, @Edmonton 3; Game 4: @Edmonton 8, Florida 1; Game 5: Edmonton at Florida, Tuesday; Game 6*: Florida at Edmonton, Friday; Game 7*:Edmonton at Florida, Monday June 24. (*) – If Necessary
  • How They Got Here — Florida: d. Tampa Bay 4-1, Boston 4-2, New York Rangers 4-2; Edmonton: d. Los Angeles 4-1, Vancouver 4-3, Dallas 4-2.
  • This Season (Florida Won 2-0) — At Florida: Panthers 5, Oilers 3 (Nov. 20). At Edmonton: Panthers 5, Oilers 2 (Dec. 17).
  • Last Season: Edmonton Won 2-0
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Oilers lead 23-16-0, 3 ties
  • Postseason History: First Meeting

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