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2024 Stanley Cup Final

Tarasenko Comes up Clutch, Helps Florida Panthers to Cup Final



Florida panthers
Anton Lundell and Eetu Luostarinen celebrate with Vladimir Tarasenko after he scored in the third period of Game 6 against the New York Rangers on Saturday night. // Photo courtesy @FlaPanthers

SUNRISE — Florida Panthers coach Paul Maurice has not asked much from Vladimir Tarasenko in the playoffs.

“Just one big goal per series,” he said.

Well, Tarasenko scored the big one.

With 9:08 to go in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference final, Tarasenko jammed a cross-crease feed from Anton Lundell past Igor Shesterkin to make it 2-0.

The goal broke an eight-game drought, and more importantly, stood as the game-winning goal which sent the Panthers to the Stanley Cup Final.

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“It must be God’s plan,” Tarasenko said. “You know, when you have chances and it doesn’t go in, you’re just going to have to keep working. Our team did great, so there’s no time to be frustrated, you just have to try hard to help the team and it paid back in the end.”

While the stat sheet says that Tarasenko has only scored three goals and six points in 17 games this postseason, but he has provided so much more than that.

The 32-year-old is one of two Stanley Cup champions on Florida’s roster — he won it in 2019 with the St. Louis Blues; Carter Verhaeghe won it the following year with Tampa Bay — and he has provided an added sense of leadership to the group.

He has taken 22-year-old Lundell under his wing, which is a big reason why he has sprouted into one of Florida’s biggest starts this postseason.

“He’s a real hockey professor, in my opinion,” said Lundell, who has three goals and 12 points and numerous clutch performances this postseason.

“He has a lot of details he likes to talk about and he’s very smart. We talk a lot. We talk about a lot of situations and what we can do to be better and how we can be more effective.”

Tarasenko picked some things up from Lundell, too, especially after moving to his line alongside penalty kill extraordinaire Eetu Luostarinen after starting the playoffs on the top line.

“They’re both very good,” Tarasenko. “What I like about him and Luostarinen is that they’re both very good human beings. I’m enjoying talking to them and ready to learn. I’ve learned something from them and we all try to help each other and play our game.”

In those games, Tarasenko was a much more relentless player on the puck defensively, he played stellar defensively and he created scoring chances.

They just weren’t going in for him.

“There’s more to it, because his last three games have been fantastic and he’s been better in each one,” Maurice said.

“He didn’t bring an ego here. I’ve had a really high expectation of him based on memories — all in St. Louis when they beat us [Winnipeg] the year they won the Cup, he was so good in that series. And then he’s a proud man as well. He shows up and we get all banged up, so he’s on a different line, he’s on the left, he’s on the right.

We made an adjustment in the series and we moved him to Lundell’s line. He likes talking hockey on the bench and I think that’s really important. You’ve been talking to Sasha Barkov for a month and we put him with Lundell and nothing changes.

“So, he put his ego aside and he is continuing to get better for us. And I’m apply for him because he wore it for a while, not scoring, but he brought a lot more in this series than that so I’m happy for him.”

Tarasenko knew he would be happy no matter where he played when he requested to be traded to Florida at the trade deadline.

He saw the potential in the team and knew he could bring something to help them make a deep run in the playoffs — whether it was the goal-scoring ability that has been there throughout his career or the Stanley Cup-winning experience.

The gamble he took on Florida paid off and now he looks to finish the job in the Stanley Cup Final.

“I mean, it’s not done yet,” Tarasenko said. “We have been through three rounds and we have one more round. It’s the hardest round left. It’s been a good journey so far and we will be ready to compete.”

For More FHN Coverage of the Florida Panthers:

  • When: Saturday, 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:Edmonton at Florida, Saturday; Game 2: Edmonton at Florida, Monday June 10; Game 3: Florida at Edmonton, Thursday June 13; 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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