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2023 Stanley Cup Final

Zac Dalpe Gets Shot in Stanley Cup Final with Florida Panthers

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Florida Panthers forward Zac Dalpe celebrates his team’s win in Game 3 over the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference semifinals with Radko Gudas. // Photo by Roger Lee Photographer (561) 866-2000

A few hours before the Florida Panthers played their opening game in the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday, the Ohio State men’s hockey team sent out a tweet wishing Zac Dalpe the best of luck.

With Eetu Luostarinen unable to play in the opener, Dalpe got his first chance at playing in a Stanley Cup Final.

“It was probably something I did not have on my bingo card to start the year,” Dalpe said on Sunday, a day after he played 5:40 in Florida’s 5-2 loss to the host Vegas Golden Knights.

Dalpe had not played for the Panthers since the second round against Toronto after Ryan Lomberg returned to the lineup following a hand injury.

“I have been a journeyman, kind of carved out a long career of injuries and ups-and-downs but to find out right before warmups that I was going in, for a lack of a better term, it was a dream come true. It is something you work your whole life for.”

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This has been a strange but rewarding season for Dalpe as he has split time as captain of Florida’s AHL Charlotte Checkers and with the Panthers.

While in South Florida, his family remained in North Carolina which has made things less than ideal.

But Dalpe ended up playing in 14 games with the Panthers this season — including 10 during the playoffs — and scored a huge goal against Boston in Game 6 as well.

“What makes it special for me is that my kids are old enough to understand what’s going on,” said Dalpe, 33, who signed a two-year contract extension with the Panthers in March.

“It is not just a payoff for me, but it’s a payoff for them. It has been a long journey here for me not seeing them, going a month or two not seeing them. To see them at home, watching the game and being excited for me was a great payoff for me.”

As far as what is in Dalpe’s immediate future, it appeared he would return to the lineup for Game 2 after Paul Maurice confirmed Luostarinen would be out.

Luostarinen blocked a shot in the second period of Game 4 against the Hurricanes and did not return.

Although Luostarinen practiced last week and skated Saturday morning in Las Vegas, Dalpe was told before warmups that he would be in.

On Monday, however, the Panthers went with seven defensemen, replacing Dalpe with Casey Fitzgerald.

FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK

THE 2023 STANLEY CUP FINAL
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
GAME 2 (Vegas Leads 1-0)
  • When: Monday, 8 p.m.
  • Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
  • 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: Monday at Vegas, 8 (TNT); Game 3: Thursday at Florida, 8 (TNT); Game 4: Saturday at Florida, 8 (TNT); Game 5*:Tuesday June 13 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.

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