Florida Panthers win franchise’s first Stanley Cup with 2-1 win in Game 7

After falling short in the Stanley Cup Final to Vegas last year and nearly squandering a 3-0 series lead, the Florida Panthers have won the Stanley Cup, and they did it the hard way, with a grind it out victory in Game 7.

The Panthers founded in 1993, after making their first playoff appearance in 1996, which saw the Panthers play in the Stanley Cup Final, would not win another series until 2022. The very next season saw the Panthers in the Stanley Cup Final only to have injuries lead to a loss to Vegas. But the 2024 season for Florida formed a team built for a playoff run and they showed it all the way to a Stanley Cup title.

Florida saw the game’s first power play after Warren Foegele was accessed a minor penalty for high sticking. The power play did not produce a shot for Florida, but seconds later, Carter Verhaeghe redirected a pass from Evan Rodrigues for the first goal of the game at 4:27 of the first period.

Edmonton responded quickly 2:17 later when Mattias Janmark on a breakaway established on a pass from Cody Ceci, roofed a forehand blocker side on Sergei Bobrovsky to the top corner of the net to tie the game.

With one period of play in the books, shots on goal favored Florida 7-6, a period that Florida controlled the pace of play.

The power play for Edmonton always was a staple, but although Matthew Tkachuk took a tripping penalty three minutes in the 2nd period, the Oilers could not score.

In a tie game, the next goal would prove to be crucial.

Edmonton continued to press offensively. Late in the period, Warren Foegele retrieved a pass from Leon Draisaitl in the attacking end. Foegele tried to weave towards the net, but Dmitri Kulikov brushed the puck away from danger.

The Panthers immediately turned defense to offense. A pass from Carter Verhaeghe led Sam Reinhart into the attacking zone for Florida. Reinhart from the right circle whistled the go-ahead goal by Stuart Skinner to put the Panthers in front 2-1.

At the 2nd intermission, the longest eighteen-minute wait could not come soon enough. Florida on the cusp of a championship, and Edmonton hoping to fulfill a remarkable story.

The Oiler offensive machine would not relent.

With seven minutes to go, Connor McDavid received a pass from the right point from Evan Bouchard which saw McDavid on the forehand with Bobrovsky out of position…McDavid could not get a shot away, before Gustav Forsling closed in to stop any opportunity for McDavid or a nearby Zach Hyman.

The Oilers pulled Stuart Skinner 1:10 to go, but the best defensive team in the NHL made sure there would be no Edmonton heroics.

The final seconds saw the Panthers shielding the puck in their defensive corner to give the Panthers their first ever Stanley Cup.

Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was mobbed by his Panthers teammates for good reason, 23 saves in the Cup clinching game, and the two-time Vezina Trophy winner for best goalie etched his name on Lord Stanley’s Cup, in what surely now is a Hall of Fame career.

Bobrovsky was the first player to receive the Cup after captain Aleksander Barkov. Barkov said on Bobrovsky receiving the Cup first, “He deserved it, I think he’s been in the League for a long time. I think he deserves it. He’s been unbelievable for us every single night this whole year. He’s a big reason why we won.”

Bobrovsky said of lifting the Cup, “It’s a special moment, it’s the moment of a dream come true and so happy.”

Head Coach Paul Maurice perhaps best described the elation of the moment when reflecting on his dad saying, “Hey dad your name is going up with your heroes, Beliveau, Richard, Howe, Lindsay, Maurice.”

Maurice was convinced by General Manager Bill Zito to coach the Panthers after Maurice had coached the Winnipeg Jets in 2021. Maurice did not think he would coach again, little did he know, his coaching story had an inscribing on Lord Stanley’s Cup awaiting him.

The Oilers valiant effort down three games to none, falls one shot short.

Connor McDavid won the Conn Smythe for MVP of the playoffs with eight goals and thirty-four assists. The thirty-four helpers from McDavid are a playoff record surpassing Wayne Gretzky.

McDavid is the first player to lose the Cup Final to win the Conn Smythe since Jean Sebastian-Giguere of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003, and the first losing skater to win the award since Reggie Leach in 1976 with Philadelphia.

McDavid emphasized the character of his team, a message that was reflected from head coach Kris Knoblauch. The bench boss for the Oilers said when referencing the message to his team, “They should have their heads up high, there’s a lot to be proud of.”

Although the Oilers have a lot to be proud of, Florida have their moment that was 30 years in the making. A franchise that ended a 26-year drought of not winning a playoff series has snatched the most coveted prize.

The Panthers become the 22nd NHL franchise to win a Stanley Cup. The Oilers last Stanley Cup win remains in 1990, dropping their all time Cup Final record to 5-3. For the nation of Canada, their Stanley Cup Champion drought extends to 32 years.

Florida will bask in the glory of Lord Stanley’s Cup before the NHL campaign ramps up again in the fall.




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