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2024 Stanley Cup Final

Florida Panthers Win Game 1 of Stanley Cup Final. They Can Be Better

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Florida Panthers forward Carter Verhaeghe, who scored the game-winning goal in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in the first period, works his way through a pile of rubber rats in the third period. // Photo courtesy @FlaPanthers

SUNRISE — There were plenty of times during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final where it looked like the Florida Panthers were getting thoroughly outplayed by the Edmonton Oilers.

Still, the Panthers were able to weather the storm and ground out a 3-0 win on the back of a 32-save shutout from Sergei Bobrovsky.

Florida, for the first time ever, has a 1-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final.

And it showed that they are coming into the Stanley Cup Final in a much better place than they did a year ago.

“I think last year, going into it, we had a lot of confidence and I think we ran out of gas last year,” Carter Verhaeghe said. “We had a lot of guys that it was their first time going that far, and I mean, we’re still learning. I think last year, we did a lot of learning, and this year too, and I think we kind of know what it takes this year.

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“We were so close last year, only three wins away, and we know how challenging it is. The ups and downs of the playoffs and the grind of it and I think that kind of makes us more equipped this year, and for our team, it gives up more confidence for sure.”

That ability to withstand the grind is what stood out when comparing this year’s team to last year’s team in the Stanley Cup Final.

Last year, that first wave of adversity hit them hard after the Vegas Golden Knights scored three unanswered goals in the third period of Game 1.

Florida came out frustrated in Game 2 and lost 7-2 while struggling to find ways through Vegas’ impenetrable defense.

This year’s Game 1 was the complete opposite.

The high-flying Edmonton Oilers led 32-18 in shots, 32-20 in scoring chances and 18-6 in high-danger chances but the Panthers held them off the scoresheet completely while finishing on their own chances.

Part of that was because Bobrovsky was great when the Panthers needed him to be.

He finished the night with a shutout, 13 high-danger saves and three high-danger saves on the penalty kill after all.

But the Panthers were able to play a game that made those high-quality chances a lot easier for Bobrovsky to track while also making good of chances on the other end.

They kept bodies away from the front of their net, they got big clears at big times, and Verhaeghe and Evan Rodrigues were able to convert on their quality scoring chances.

But still, the Panthers know there is more they need to do to improve, and that shows the maturity of a team that has been there before.

“I think we can definitely be better,” Verhaeghe said after a game where the Panthers were outshot 32-18.

“There’s always things we can improve on, and I think after a week off, we will take a win anyway we can get it. But, yeah, obviously, they outshot us, had a lot more chances than us and we shut it down, played good defensively, but there’s always things we can improve on. We’re kind of getting into our opponent after the first game and feeling it out and it’s just nice to get the win.”

For a team with a lot of experience in games like this, going back to the drawing board and finding ways to gain even more control of the game will be a lot easier.

“They’ve seen our game enough,” coach Paul Maurice said. “What’s this one? 100? Last eyar, they got an opportunity to see us play well, see some of those things we’re good at. So, we’ve got lots of room to improve, which is a positive for us.”

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2024 STANLEY CUP FINAL
EDMONTON OILERS VS. FLORIDA PANTHERS 
GAME 2
Panthers Lead Best-of-7 Series 1-0
  • When: Monday, 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: Edmonton at Florida, Monday; Game 3: Florida at Edmonton, Thursday; Game 4:Florida at Edmonton, Saturday June 15; Game 5*: Edmonton at Florida, Tuesday June 18; Game 6*: Florida at Edmonton, Friday June 21; 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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