2024 Stanley Cup Final Game 2 Recap:

Rodrigues scores 2 in the 3rd, Panthers two wins from first Cup Title

In a game that was filled with physicality, Evan Rodrigues played the role of hero again, his two goals in the third period led the way for the Florida Panthers to stand two wins away from a Stanley Cup championship.

Sergei Bobrovsky was not as busy as he was in Game 1 but made 18 saves on 19 Oilers shots in the victory.

The game began with the Oilers not generating shots on goal, the opposite was the case in the first game of the series.

But the game saw an intensified level of physicality, and it came into play at 9:21 in the first when Warren Foegele was given a five-minute major for kneeing the Panthers Eetu Luostarinen and a game misconduct. The Oilers penalty kill that had killed the previous 31 penalty kills was put to the test. Oliver Ekman-Larsson for Florida amid the power play was given a minor penalty for tripping which led to 4 on 4 play.

In the 4 on 4, Connor McDavid set up the Oilers on a 2 on 1 break, Mattias Ekholm led the rush with Leon Draisaitl, and Ekholm fooled Panther’s goalie Sergei Bobrovsky with a five-hole goal, the first the Russian goaltender had given up between the legs.

The game saw its fair number of injuries. Eetu Luostarinen went to the dressing room after the kneeing penalty by Foegele. Darnell Nurse suffered an injury that limited his ice time to merely four minutes and twenty seconds. Aaron Ekblad appeared to be shaken up when he collided with Connor McDavid.

After one period of play, the Oilers led on the scoreboard 1-0 thanks to the Ekholm goal and had more penalty minutes with 17 to the Panther’s 4. The shot differential did favor the Panthers nine to four.

The second period saw a breakthrough for Florida. Niko Mikkola, seconds after nearly scoring on his own net, one timed a dropped pass from Anton Lundell, and the Panthers tied the game near the midway mark of the second period.

Both teams went into the intermission even at one apiece.

The Oilers, being decimated from injury made an impact in game 2, which also came because of lineup changes.

With Cody Ceci a healthy scratch, and Darnell Nurse nursing an injury, the Oilers needed lots of minutes from their defensemen, which includes Evan Bouchard.

Bouchard logged over 30 minutes, one minute from his career high. When you spend plenty of time on ice, your stamina level diminished can lead to mistakes, and that is exactly what happened in the third period.

Bouchard in his defensive end, gave the puck straight to the stick of Evan Rodrigues, a quick snapshot later, the puck was in the back of the net, and the Panthers took the lead three minutes into the third.

The game saw another turning point with 9:28 left in regulation when Aleksander Barkov took contact from the elbow of Leon Draisaitl. Draisaitl was handed a roughing minor and Barkov was forced to the dressing room and would not return.

With 7:34 left in the third, Evan Rodrigues was back in the scoring act on the dying stages of the power play, Anton Lundell recorded his second assist of the night, and Evan Rodrigues recorded his second goal of the night, on a tip in. The Panthers had an insurance goal, ending a streak of 34 straight penalties killed by the Oilers in the process.

The Panthers would tack on an empty net goal with 2:28 left thanks to Aaron Ekblad.

Florida came away with the victory in Game 2 by the count of 4-1.

Although the Panthers are understandably be pleased with a 2-0 lead, however the concern is with Aleksander Barkov, one of the finest defensive minded forwards who has been critically offensively for Florida, may have to miss time because of the impacts of the injury he suffered.

The Oilers also have their own list of injuries. Evander Kane was visibly laboring during the game, while Darnell Nurse posed a question of his health status, after the defenseman made several trips to the Oilers dressing room. Who’s to know if Warren Foegele may be disciplined by the league for his kneeing penalty in the first period. The Oilers have had a new lineup for the first two games of the series, a trend that seems destined to continue for Game 3 on Thursday.

The series has been a struggle for the Oilers, their lone goal coming from a defenseman, and their powerplay of no power has gone 0/7 in this series.

Who’s to wonder who Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch will insert into the lineup for Game 3.

Panthers’ fans can also appreciate their depth making big plays, with Evan Rodrigues with two goals, Niko Mikkola with first Panthers goal, and Anton Lundell accounting for two assists.

Kevin Stenlund played a major role in the faceoff circle for the Panthers with a faceoff win percentage of 73%.

Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 52 of 53 Oilers shots in the first two games of the series.

Teams that start a Stanley Cup Final up 2-0 go on to win 90.6% of the time. The Boston Bruins were the last team to rally down two games to none to win the Stanley Cup in 2011 against the Vancouver Canucks.

But for Connor McDavid, he embraces the challenge that lies in game 3 in Edmonton on Thursday.

It’s another opportunity for group to come together and dig our way out…It’s supposed to be hard, it’s supposed to be difficult, and I’m excited to see what our group is made of. I’m excited to see our group come together, I’m excited to see us fight through adversity and I’m looking forward to people doubting us again with our backs against the wall. – Connor McDavid

The same mindset can be stated for the man of the hour, Evan Rodrigues.

It’s special. You try to embrace it, try to stay in the moment. It’s two big wins for our team. And I think we’ve already turned the page and we’re getting ready for Game 3 – Evan Rodrigues

With the Panthers in uncharted waters, one win in Edmonton, can put the Cats on the cusp of the Cup, for the first time in franchise history.

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