SUNRISE — Florida Panthers coach Paul Maurice just would not let the Sergei Bobrovsky question go.
In his postgame comments following Florida’s stunning 3-2 overtime victory in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, he looked at the reporter who asked about how short Bobrovsky’s leash would be coming off Game 2.
It was not short, at all.
”Does anyone want to ask about who’s starting the next game?” Maurice said with a smirk.
Yeah, Bobrovsky was pulled after giving up four goals in the Game 2 loss, but that was a mercy benching. The Panthers were a mess in front of Bobrovsky on Monday night.
The Panthers were much, much better on Thursday.
So, too, was Bobrovsky.
Maurice ended up pulling the reporter to the side following his postgame comments to apologize for harping on the original question from Wednesday while further explaining his thinking on the matter.
He did not, nor has not, had to apologize for Bobrovsky over the past couple of weeks.
The Florida goalie only ended up with 25 saves on Thursday night but a number of them kept his team in the game.
The Panthers tied the score at 2 off a big goal from Matthew Tkachuk with 2:23 left in regulation and then had to kill off a phantom tripping call on Gus Forsling at the end of the third which bled into overtime.
“It’s definitely a huge boost for us,’’ Bobrovsky said of Tkachuk’s goal. “It gave us hope.”
Had Bobrovsky given up a goal on the penalty kill and the Golden Knights would have taken a commanding 3-0 lead in the series, another big fine was probably forthcoming.
But, Eric Staal made a huge block of a shot, Bobrovsky made the saves and Carter Verhaeghe won it in overtime.
“He’s got all the confidence,’’ said Brandon Montour, who made it a 1-0 game early. “We have the confidence in him. Mentally, he prepares the same way regardless of the outcomes and it was no-brainer that he was going to come and play.”
Bobrovsky, for his part, talked mostly about his team following the win, mentioning how big of a win it was at least half a dozen times.
The Panthers really needed this win and Bobrovsky did as well.
After a strong start to the series, he was not happy about the 2-0 hole Florida was in coming home and knew he had to do something about it.
He most certainly did.
“It’s a big win for us to win,’’ Bobrovsky said, “to win at home, it’s a big win and we can build from it. The coaches gave us a pretty clear plan and I thought the guys were executing it unbelievably tonight. We defended very well. We didn’t give much space or room or time for them. So that’s a big win for us.”
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
THE 2023 STANLEY CUP FINAL
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
GAME 4 (Vegas leads 2-1)
- When: Saturday, 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: @Florida 3, Vegas 2 (OT); Game 4: Saturday at Florida, 8 (TNT); Game 5: Tuesday 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.