SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers finally came home to play their first home game in the Stanley Cup Final since 1996 on Thursday night against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Unlike in 1996, the Panthers made this a series.
For the first time in history, the Panthers have won a game in the Stanley Cup Final after Carter Verhaeghe scored in overtime to give Florida a 3-2 win.
The Panthers now trail this best-of-7 series 2-1 with Game 4 here on Saturday night.
Florida is now 1-6 in Final games — and 1-0 in Sunrise.
Matthew Tkachuk, who left the game in the first period only to return in the second, played a huge role with yet another clutch goal — this one tying the score with 2:13 remaining in regulation.
This came about 15 seconds after goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (25 saves) was sent to the bench.
Prior to Tkachuk’s goal in front of the goal, Florida’s lone goal of the night came from Brandon Montour less than 5 minutes into the game.
On Thursday, the Panthers came out flying, taking their second 1-0 lead in this series as Montour broke his 10-game scoring drought by sending a saucer shot from 50 feet out and beating Adin Hill at 4:08 of the first.
Only the Panthers failed to create much more offense, especially once Tkachuk left the game midway through the first not long after being hit by Keegan Kolesar.
Florida got a power play at 6:01 of the first period but did nothing with it, a common theme this series.
The Panthers are now 0-12 with the man advantage after finding so much success in the final three games of the Carolina series.
One team that is not having a problem with the power play is Vegas — which has been feasting in the Florida penalty kill.
Jonathan Marchessault ended up being part of both of Vegas’ power play goals which were difference makers on Thursday.
Well, the entire series, actually.
With Radko Gudas and Will Carrier in the box, Anthony Duclair took a tripping penalty giving the Knights a 4-on-3 chance with 4:20 left in the first.
It did not take long for Vegas to tie the score.
Mark Stone found a rebound off a Marchessault shot right in the slot and put it past Bobrovsky tie things 23 seconds after Duclair went into the box.
Vegas later took the lead on another power play chance as Marchessault got his fourth power play goal in three games by scoring off a slick pass from Jack Eichel at 14:59 of the second.
Florida, which had limited offensive chances against Hill for the first 55-plus minutes, was able to get some looks with Bobrovsky on the bench.
Not long after Bobrovsky skated off, the Panthers kept the puck in the offensive zone on a nice play from Aaron Ekblad which led to Tkachuk getting another big goal in this postseason.
As the Vegas defense scrambled, Carter Verhaeghe sent a shot in that Hill made the initial stop on but could not seem to find.
Tkachuk did, banging it in from the doorstep leading a bunch of rubber and plastic rats to rain down on the ice.
It did sort of feel like 1996 again — especially when Dan Marino led off banging the pregame pep rally drum.
Vegas found itself back on the power play in the final seconds of the third on some sort of a tripping call on Gus Forsling.
That power play leaked into overtime and the Panthers were able to kill it off.
GOALS OF GAME 3
- Panthers 1, Knights 0 (4:08, 1st): Brandon Montour breaks his scoreless streak at 10 games as he throws up a shot from 45 feet out that finds a way past Adin Hill for a rare Florida lead in this series.
- Knights 1, Panthers 1 (16:03 PP, 1st): Mark Stone follows up a rebound from a Jonathan Marchessault shot as Vegas cashes in on a 4-on-3 chance.
- Knights 2, Panthers 1 (14:59, 2nd): Marchessault tees off on a beautiful pass from Jack Eichel for his fourth power play goal of the series.
- Panthers 2, Knights 2 (17:47, 3rd): Matthew Tkachuk gets another huge goal for Florida, scoring off a shot left in front from Carter Verhaeghe.
- Panthers 3, Knights 2 (4:27, OT): Your OT hero, again, is Verhaeghe. We have a series now.
GR’S 3 STARS OF GAME 3
1. Carter Verhaeghe, Florida
2. Matthew Tkachuk, Florida
3. Jonathan Marchessault, Vegas
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
THE 2023 STANLEY CUP FINAL
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- 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: Thursday @ Florida; 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.