Before the Florida Panthers took on the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night, Matthew Tkachuk said if his team won a game on enemy ice and split the series, it would be a good roadtrip.
After the game, he was talking about his team needing to have a good homestand.
The Panthers are coming home trailing the Golden Knights after getting outplayed throughout Game 2, eventually losing 7-2 in a contest that looked done early in the second period.
Florida found itself down 4-0 with just over seven minutes gone in the second with coach Paul Maurice deciding Sergei Bobrovsky had seen enough of that mess in front of him and gave him the rest of the night off.
Bobrovsky, Maurice confirmed, will return for Game 3 on Thursday night in Sunrise.
This loss was not on the Florida goalies as Vegas seemingly did whatever it wanted to do in the offensive zone.
The Panthers now trail 2-0 in this best-of-7 series with the next two in South Florida.
Florida is going to need all the help it can get.
“We have to prepare and give everything into this one game and get momentum back,” Tkachuk said after he scored a goal and got sent to the room twice for various indiscretions.
“We’re sticking with our game. We definitely have to tweak a few things that didn’t work in the first two games. They are one of the best home teams, pretty much ran the table at home this season and in the playoffs. We got to go back and have to start with 1.”
Florida chased Vegas from the get, giving up yet another power play goal to Jonathan Marchessault at 7:05 with Alec Martinez scoring about 10 minutes later.
The Panthers are scoreless in seven power play chances this series while Vegas has four goals in 11 cracks at it.
Florida needs to tighten things up in many facets of its game if they hope to make this a series once it gets on home ice.
“Parts of our game we know we can improve, but we have to get there real fast,”Maurice said in a short postgame presser.
“No doubt about that. We’ll have a pretty simple gameplan. I don’t think it’s about scoring goals in this series, it’s about defending the rush and we weren’t great at that tonight.”
Florida trailed 4-0 going into the third period but Anton Lundell scored seconds into it, seemingly breathing some life into the Panthers.
Were the Cardiac Cats back?
They were not.
Vegas made it 5-1 just over two minutes later when Marchessault got another.
After that it was mostly mayhem as a bunch of players on both sides — well, mostly Florida players — were sent to an early shower.
Now the Panthers have a couple of days to get ready for what could be their season on Thursday night.
The team will fly home later today and likely hold a full practice Wednesday at the arena.
Vegas is feeling pretty good about itself right now.
“You know, they’re halfway there,’’ Tkachuk said. “Hopefully they are thinking about that a little as they come to Florida and maybe that can work in our favor.”
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
THE 2023 STANLEY CUP FINAL
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
GAME 3 (Vegas leads 2-0)
- When: Thursday, 8 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- 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
- Series Schedule — Game 1: @Vegas 5, Florida 2; Game 2: @Vegas 7, Florida 2; 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.