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2024 Stanley Cup Final

With Stanley Cup in Sight, Florida Panthers Keep Eye on the Prize

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The Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe Trophy are on display in Fort Lauderdale before the Final turned to Edmonton. // Special to FHN

The Stanley Cup made its debut in this series when it was on the ice right before Game 1 in Sunrise. A number of Florida Panthers avoided making eye contact with the glimmering silver chalice.

The Panthers are now a win away from claiming that Cup as their own.

Not surprisingly, the Panthers are keeping their focus on the next game — and not what comes with it if they win.

“I’m looking forward to going to bed,’’ Paul Maurice said. “If I’m fortunate enough to wake up, I got a plan for tomorrow, and then I’m not looking anywhere past that.”

Said Sergei Bobrovsky: “We keep staying with the moment. Obviously it’s a great moment for us, and we will enjoy it tonight and get ready for the next one.”

The Panthers hold a 3-0 lead in this best-of-7 Stanley Cup Final against the Edmonton Oilers following Thursday’s 4-3 victory.

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Only two players on the Panthers have won the Cup in the past — Vladimir Tarasenko in 2019, and Carter Verhaeghe the following year on this Edmonton ice — so they would be excused for having trouble sleeping knowing how close they are.

“I think everybody realizes it’s important to move on,’’ Tarasenko said. “If you have a one-game-at-a-time mindset, it helps you. Whatever the game is, win or lose, you have to learn after it and get ready for the next one. The job is not done.’’

Of the 28 previous teams who held a 3-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Final, 20 ended it in a sweep as Florida is trying to do.

Only one has lost.

In 1942, the Detroit Red Wings lost hold on the Cup when the Toronto Maple Leafs rallied to win it.

The Panthers certainly do not want to join that group.

“We know it’s going to be the hardest game for sure,’’ Sasha Barkov said. “We don’t take anything for granted. Every single day is one day at a time. Whether it’s one period, one shift, we take it one at a time. That’s how we’ve been all year.”

Said Sam Bennett: The job’s not finished. We’re not really thinking about that. Our whole mindset right now is recovering and getting prepared for the next game. I don’t think anyone can really look ahead. It’s still, we’ve got a lot of work to do. That’s our focus right now.”

Yes, the Panthers know this thing is not over until Gary Bettman and the Stanley Cup is rolled out onto the ice.

The Panthers hope that comes on Saturday night.

Edmonton, for what it is worth, cannot give up the fight. Not with another home game coming on Saturday night.

“We’re playing in June, and that’s something to be very grateful for,’’ goalie Stuart Skinner said. “At the same time, it is disappointing being down 3-0. We’ve got to let that reality sink in. I’m not too sure what the stats are on coming back from it, but if anyone can do it, it’s the Oil.”

The Panthers understand that they are going to get everything the Oilers have on Saturday night.

This series is not going to go down without a fight.

The Panthers say they’ll be ready for it.

They have been here before.

Florida now has a 3-0 lead in a playoff series for the fourth time in two years: Toronto and  Carolina last postseason; Tampa Bay and Edmonton in this one.

The Panthers are the first team to accomplish that in a decade.

“Go win your day,’’ Matthew Tkachuk said. “We won the game today, get out of here. Tomorrow is probably a recovery day, no skate. Try to win that, go in to Game 4 and try to win that. That has been our mindset all year; win your day, whether it’s game day or not.

“Why change now?”

For More FHN Coverage of the Florida Panthers:

2024 STANLEY CUP FINAL
EDMONTON OILERS VS. FLORIDA PANTHERS 
GAME 4
Panthers Lead Best of 7 Series 3-0
  • When: Saturday, 8 p.m.
  • Where: Rogers Place; Edmonton, Alberta
  • 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: @Florida 4, Edmonton 1; Game 3: Florida 4, @Edmonton 3; Game 4: Florida at Edmonton, Saturday; Game 5*: Edmonton at Florida, Tuesday; 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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