So we have a series after all.
A change of scenery and a homecoming helped the Florida Panthers regain their mojo as the No. 8 seed in the East entered the board with a 3-2 overtime win to get closer of 2-1 to the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Matthew Tkachuk of Florida scored with 2:13 left in regulation time to force overtime, then Carter Verhaeghe scored 4:27 into the extra period to win it.
What did we learn in Game 3? What can the Panthers do to tighten things up even more and how can the Golden Knights strengthen their position?
ESPN reporters Kristen Shilton, Ryan S. Clark, Greg Wyshynski and Emily Kaplan record their Game 3 takeaways:
Brandon Montour steps onto the top shelf to give the Panthers an early lead
Brandon Montour comes out on top as the Panthers take an early 1-0 lead against the Golden Knights.
Florida desperately needed their defense to start contributing offensively. Brandon Montour shook things up with a quick strike in Game 3. Vegas scored three goals from its defensemen on the night while the Panthers scored zero (and, well, the whole team didn’t score any). only four in total). Montour scored five goals in Florida’s first-round win over Boston, but hadn’t lit the lamp since Game 1 of the second round against Toronto.
Montour said Wednesday he felt the opportunities presented themselves and he would multiply from there when they did. The new father delivered on his word with the opening salvo of Game 3. It was what the Panthers needed on all fronts – their fullback getting involved from the start, Montour appearing on the scoresheet after a unnecessary 10-game drought and Florida grabbing an early lead. — Shilton
Bob is fine
Sergei Bobrovsky pulls off a superb save streak for the Panthers
Sergei Bobrovsky makes a series of impressive saves as the Panthers hold the score at 1-1.
If there was a question mark over the goalkeeper entering Game 3 – after Sergei Bobrovsky was retired in Game 2, after his fourth goal allowed and eighth in the young series – the coach of the Panthers, Paul Maurice, didn’t want to hear it. Maurice accused the reporters of making up stories because they had too much free time with an extra day off as the series moved to Florida. He also reminded the media that 48 hours ago many were wondering if it was possible to split the Conn Smythe — for playoff MVP — between Bobrovsky and Matthew Tkachuk.
So no, the Panthers weren’t turning away from the guy who got them this far, the league’s highest-paid goaltender. Bobrovsky rewarded that faith with an overall sonic performance. He made some particularly solid saves to keep the score at 1-1 in the second half. Florida wasn’t going to get a better performance from backup Alex Lyon, who hadn’t started a game since April 21 in the first round against Boston. — Kaplan
Jonathan Marchessault stays hot with a power play goal
Jack Eichel makes an accurate pass to Jonathan Marchessault for the power play goal as the Golden Knights lead 2-1.
It’s usually at least a little funny when the “Vegas franchise record!” the label is launched because, you know, the Golden Knights have only been around for six years. Nonetheless, Jonathan Marchessault is continuing his incredible playoff run with a franchise-record eight-game playoff point streak that is impressive. Marchessault assisted on Mark Stone’s first-period power-play goal and added to his success with a second-period score, his 13th of the playoffs. This makes him the third player in the past 35 years to score in each of the first three games of a Cup final (along with Steve Yzerman and Jake Guentzel).
Marchessault seems to have taken the hockey world by surprise with his playoff prowess and being able to put a permanent mark on the books is a worthy reward for the forward’s efforts. There’s no doubt Marchessault’s production will continue to be a big factor in the success of the Golden Knights as the series continues. — Shilton
A convincing argument
Call him Conn-athan Marchessault. The Vegas striker finished Game 3 as the team leader in goals and points. Mark Stone’s 4-on-3 power play goal came on a Marchessault pass from the blue line. Marchessault’s power-play tally in the second period gave the Golden Knights the lead. It was his ninth road goal in the playoffs and the fifth straight road game in which he scored a goal. The sports betting has made him the betting favorite for the Conn Smythe and for good reason: the Vegas forward went from two points in his first seven playoff games to becoming the leader of a team two wins away. the Stanley Cup. — Wyshynsky
The super power of Vegas…
Mark Stone’s power-play goal ties in with Vegas
Mark Stone scores on the power play as the Golden Knights tie the Panthers 1-1.
Vegas’ consistency on special teams has been a game-changer in this series. The Golden Knights had two power play chances in the first period alone and Mark Stone capitalized on a 4-on-3 chance late in the period to deflate what had been a pretty solid start for Florida.
Vegas had been on their heels for much of the first period as Florida made it difficult for the Golden Knights to even complete a breakout pass. But what separated Vegas from the Panthers – and may well continue to do so – is making the most of what’s given to them. The Knights’ incendiary power play is a great example of how quickly a change in momentum can happen when the stakes are this high. — Shilton
…and the extended Florida blackout
Three shots on goal. That’s all the power play the Panthers were able to muster in their first three chances in Game 3. For all the elements that proved to be a problem for the Panthers in the Cup Final, a lack of production of power play was the them. A lack of shots exacerbates how the man’s advantage went from a Florida road advantage in the Finals to a serious problem in the bid to win the first title in franchise history .
The Panthers were 0-for-3 going into the third period. In total? The Panthers are 0 for 10 on the power play in the series. It’s a shocking revelation for a team that finished with the No. 10 power play in the regular season and had a 27.9% postseason success rate heading into the series.
Another stat that amplifies the Panthers’ setbacks: the Golden Knights were 14th out of 16 teams that reached the playoffs shorthanded with a 63% success rate before facing the Panthers. — clark
Matthew Tkachuk heads to the locker room after a big blow
Matthew Tkachuk leaves the ice after taking a big hit from Keegan Kolesar in the first period of Game 3.
The parallels between Jack Eichel and Matthew Tkachuk have been well documented in this series. Two American-born superstars, acquired from the teams that originally drafted them, that had transformative effects on the Golden Knights and Panthers, respectively. They score leaders for their teams, they play with swagger. Two sides of the same coin.
This extends to the physical punishment they received on the show. Callback in Game 2 when Eichel attempted to skate across the ice with the puck and ended up getting annihilated by Tkachuk on a check. Eichel skated to the concern of fans and teammates. But he came back the next period and assisted on a goal.
With just 5:54 remaining in the first period of Game 3, Tkachuk received a pass to his own end near the blue line. As he came up the ice, a streaky Keegan Kolesar put his shoulder into Tkachuk, knocking the Panthers star onto the ice. When Tkachuk returned to the bench for the Panthers, he was watched by a team coach. He returned for one shift on a Panthers power play, but then left the ice and the bench for the remainder of the period. He didn’t come out for the start of the second period, but eventually returned and skated regular shifts, while enduring punishment from Knights defensemen.
Either way, the tenacity of these two paced superstars was Cup worthy. — Wyshynsky
Considering what Marchessault is up to and the fact that the NHL Draft is later this month, it seems like a good time to reignite the size conversation. Watching a 5-foot-9 man on skates fly around and terrorize a team that employed him is interesting theater. But it also raises a question about the importance of size.
Watch this year’s Cup final. Elite Prospects ranks the Golden Knights as the fifth-greatest team in the NHL while the Panthers rank 29th. They are proof that teams can be of different sizes and still be able to compete for the championship.
Now consider the best prospects for this year. Connor Bedard, the presumptive No. 1 pick, sits around 5-10. Matvei Michkov, expected to be a top-three pick, is also listed at 5-10. Will Smith, who has a chance to be in the top five, is just under 6 feet tall. Those three along with Ryan Leonard, Gabriel Perreault, Brayden Yager, Zach Benson and Oliver Moore are all examples of the top forwards in this year’s draft class who have been listed at 5-11 or lower. — clark