Stanley Cup Finals: Panthers win over Oilers in Game 7 thriller to claim first championship in franchise history

For the first time in history, the Florida Panthers became Stanley Cup champions.

Florida took a 4-3 series lead against the Edmonton Oilers in a 2-1 Game 7 thriller in the Stanley Cup Final. The win halted a historic slump after the Oilers rallied from a 3-0 series deficit to tie the series 3-3.

After allowing 18 goals in back-to-back losses in Games 4-6, Florida’s defense returned to form Monday night thanks to a strong performance by goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who turned away 23 of 24 Edmonton shots, including a late Oilers flurry. .

Edmonton’s Connor McDavid received the Conn Smyth Trophy as the most valuable player in the entire Stanley Cup playoffs despite his team losing. He is the sixth player in NHL history to win the award from a losing team and the first since Jean-S├ębastien Giguier of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in 2003. He was the second skater to win in a failed attempt, joining Reggie Leach from Philadelphia in 1976. Flyers.

McDavid led the playoffs with 42 points and tied the NHL record previously held by Wayne Gretzky with 34 playoff assists. But the Panthers stifled McDavid and the rest of the Oilers’ offense in Monday’s decisive Game 7.

The Florida home crowd erupted in cheers over Conn Smith’s announcement, but Panthers captain Alexander Barkov found plenty of reason to cheer as he hoisted the Stanley Cup for the first time in his 11 seasons with the franchise.

The first period got off to a brisk start. The Panthers secured their first power play of the game on Warren Fogell’s maximum penalty less than three minutes into the game. It didn’t directly turn into a power-play goal, but Florida’s Carter Verhake broke the scoreless tie seconds later.

Just as Edmonton came back at full strength, Florida’s Ivan Rodriguez fired a slap shot off the left wall that missed the right net. But Verhaek knocked the puck out of the air with his stick past Stuart Skinner for a 1-0 Florida lead.

Florida took its first lead of the series with 15:33 left in Game 3, 4-3. It was short lived.

Just 2:17 later, Edmonton’s Matthias Janmark tied the game on a breakaway goal off a sensational assist from Cody Ceci.

After a Florida turnover, Ceci corralled the puck behind the Edmonton goal line and then blasted it up the ice through three Florida defenders. Janmark defended the pass in front of the Florida blue line and hit the net without a defender in his way. He beat Bobrovsky and sent a wrist shot into the left side of the net.

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The goal tied the game at 1-1 and capped a trend that plagued the Panthers as the Oilers rallied from a 3-0 deficit to even the series. The goal was Edmonton’s fifth in a series of breakaway chances. It finally changed.

Edmonton’s chances dried up as the game went into the second period tied 1-1. The Oilers controlled most of the second, but struggled to convert that control into scoring opportunities. Then, 15-plus minutes in, the Panthers turned the Oilers’ scoring opportunity into one of their own.

Fogele threatened a 2-1 Oilers lead with a shot from the right goal line into the crowded net. But Florida’s Dmitri Kulikov fumbled the puck and the Panthers defended it on offense. Center Sam Reinhart converted the opportunity at the other end with a slapshot from the right wing that found Nigarin behind for a 2-1 Panthers lead, sending an eager Florida home crowd into a frenzy.

The second period ended without another goal, and the Panthers entered the third period with history on their side. Teams leading Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final after two periods have won 13 of their previous 14 chances. The Panthers have won 25 straight games when leading after two.

Sam Reinhardt celebrates what turned out to be the Stanley Cup winning goal in the second period.  (Peter Johnlead/ICON Sportswire via Getty Images)

Sam Reinhardt celebrates what turned out to be the Stanley Cup winning goal in the second period. (Peter Johnlead/ICON Sportswire via Getty Images)

Bobrovsky and Florida’s defense made sure the Panthers couldn’t break the streak. A 3-0 series-defining unit regained control. The Panthers limited McDavid and kept All-Star Leon Tricite (zero goals in the Stanley Cup Final) in check throughout most of the third period.

Then came McDavid’s best scoring opportunity with 7:05 left in the game. But he lost control of the puck directly in front of the net, and the Oilers failed to get past Bobrovsky.

Edmonton turned up the pressure on Bobrovsky in the final minutes of regulation, but couldn’t break through despite several late chances.

The Oilers pulled Skinner in the closing moments of the game. Florida celebrated a Stanley Cup championship on home ice. The win denied the Oilers the chance to claim their first Canadian title since the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup in 1993.

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Florida was the more physical team in Game 7 when it had 30 hits to Edmonton’s 19. The Panthers held a 17-13 edge in blocked shots and a 12-7 advantage in takeaways. It was a fitting end for a Panthers team that allowed the fewest goals in the league during the regular season.

The win was the Panthers’ first three trips to the Stanley Cup Finals since the team’s inception in 1993-94. They first played for the Cup in 1996, their third year in the NHL, but were swept by the Colorado Avalanche. They returned last season for the first time under head coach Paul Morris, but fell to the Vegas Golden Knights in five games.

The Panthers aren’t experiencing any kind of hangover this season after a long 2023 playoff run. They won the Atlantic Division title with 10 wins and 18 points and finished third in the Eastern Conference during the regular season.

The championship was the first for head coach Paul Morris in his 26 seasons as a head coach in the NHL.

In the playoffs, the Panthers defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games, the Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers in six games to reach the Cup Final against the Oilers. Now they are Stanley Cup champions for the first time.

Game 1: Panthers 3, Oilers 0
Game 2: Panthers 4, Oilers 1
Game 3: Panthers 4, Oilers 3
Game 4: Oilers 8, Panthers 1
Game 5: Oilers 5, Panthers 3
Game 6: Oilers 5, Leopards 1
Game 7: Panthers 2, Oilers 1

Live coverage is over37 updates

  • Alexander Barkov is the first player to hoist the Stanley Cup for the Florida Panthers, and he’s handing it to Sergey Bobrovsky.

  • Connor McDavid won the Conn Smyth Cup

  • “It’s not a dream anymore,” Matthew Tkachuk said after the game on the ESPN broadcast. “It’s real.”

  • The celebration begins in Florida.

  • The Florida Panthers won the Stanley Cup!

    It was the first trophy in franchise history for the Panthers.

  • By NHL Stats: There were 14 tying goals in the final 10 minutes. Any ability Stanley Cup Final (Last: Pat Maroon 53:48 in Game 4 of 2021 SCF) most recently Maple Leafs forward Todd Sloan (59:28 in Game 5 1951 SCF)

  • The Oilers couldn’t capitalize on an incredible opportunity in front of the net.

  • The Oilers penalty kill does its job, denying the Panthers after Evan Bouchard’s high-sticking penalty on Etu Lustarinen.

  • By NHL Stats: There have only been two game-tying goals in the third period of a Game 7 in Stanley Cup Final history: Sweeney Schreiner at 7:47 of the third period for the 1942 Maple Leafs and Murray Armstrong at 8:16. 1945 is the Red Wings’ third season. Schreiner’s 1942 Maple Leafs won, while Armstrong’s 1945 Red Wings lost – both going to Game 7 after one team took a 3-0 series lead.

  • According to NHL Stats, teams that advance to the third period of a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final are 13-1 all-time.

  • End of 2nd period: Panthers 2, Oilers 1

    The Panthers now lead thanks to Sam Reinhart’s goal late in the second period, and Florida leads the Oilers 17-15.

  • The Panthers took a 2-1 lead

    After some impressive control by Edmonton, the Panthers’ Sam Reinhardt gave his team a lead with less than five minutes left in the second period.

  • Edmonton goes on the power play after a questionable tripping call on Tkachuk, but they ultimately come up empty.

  • 1st period result: Oils, Panthers tied 1-1

    The Panthers’ Carter Verhey scored first to give the home team the lead, but the Oilers’ Matthias Janmark tied things at 1 a couple of minutes later. Florida has a slight shot-on-goal advantage over Edmonton, 7-6. That’s where we’re at after the first period.

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