Florida Panthers – The Vegas Golden Knights made a remarkable comeback in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Florida Panthers. After trailing early in the game, Vegas rallied and secured a 5-2 victory, taking the lead in the best-of-seven series.
Jonathan Marchessault, one of the original players from the Knights’ franchise, emphasized their readiness and composure throughout the game. Marchessault scored the tying goal in the first period, and Zach Whitecloud provided the go-ahead goal with just over 13 minutes remaining. The Golden Knights’ offense, combined with Adin Hill’s exceptional performance in goal, helped secure the win.
Vegas’ disciplined play was crucial, as they successfully killed off important penalties. Captain Mark Stone scored an insurance goal that was reviewed but ultimately confirmed, while Reilly Smith added an empty-netter to widen the margin of victory.
The game was characterized by intense physicality and post-whistle confrontations between the Sun Belt teams. Vegas defenseman Shea Theodore, who scored his first goal of the playoffs, acknowledged the Panthers’ aggressive style of play and highlighted their team’s efforts to stay focused and not get caught up in it.
With Game 2 set to take place in Las Vegas on Monday, the series promises to continue with its high-intensity and competitive nature.
The Florida Panthers attempted to intensify
The Florida Panthers attempted to intensify their physical play late in the game after falling behind by two goals. This led to a series of penalties, leaving the Florida bench short-handed. However, the outcome of the game had already been determined prior to these events.
Florida Panthers – The Vegas Golden Knights found themselves trailing after allowing a short-handed goal by Eric Staal, which dampened the spirits of the crowd. Nevertheless, the Golden Knights, known for their ability to make comebacks, rallied and secured their ninth comeback win of the playoffs. Jonathan Marchessault, who has gained a reputation for scoring crucial goals since joining the team, answered with a goal before the end of the first period.
Early in the second period, Adin Hill made a remarkable stick save to deny Nick Cousins a clear goal-scoring opportunity. This save was reminiscent of a similar save made by Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals against the Golden Knights five years ago, in the same crease. Such saves have a game-changing impact, as noted by coach Bruce Cassidy, who emphasized the importance of such key moments.
Although the Golden Knights gave up a tying goal to Anthony Duclair with just 10.2 seconds left in the second period, it did little to slow down their momentum. Zach Whitecloud’s goal, with goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky screened and unable to see, reignited the fans’ excitement.
Despite the loss, Bobrovsky, making his first appearance in the Stanley Cup Final, downplayed any concerns. He stopped 29 of 34 shots and had only suffered his second loss in 12 games this postseason.
Sergei Bobrovsky expressed his satisfaction with his performance, stating that he played a good and solid game. He acknowledged that the Golden Knights had created several scoring chances apart from their goals, making the game enjoyable.
Play was momentarily halted
Florida Panthers – Play was momentarily halted, adding to the excitement. Adin Hill, the Vegas goaltender, became frustrated when Nick Cousins crashed into his crease, leading to a confrontation that sparked multiple scrums. In the second period, Matthew Tkachuk made it clear to Vegas’ Nic Hague that he was unhappy with a hit on Cousins in the corner and a collision with Brandon Montour after the whistle.
Hill asserted his determination to stand his ground when players invade his crease, stating that while he wouldn’t do anything drastic or go wild, he would defend himself.
Florida coach Paul Maurice, returning to the final for the first time since 2001, maintained a calm demeanor reminiscent of the first round when his team fell behind to the top-seeded Boston Bruins but ultimately emerged victorious in a seven-game series. Maurice acknowledged the tight nature of the series and encouraged everyone to stay composed.
The Vegas Golden Knights have reached the Stanley Cup
The Vegas Golden Knights have reached the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in their six-year existence, with their previous appearance occurring in their inaugural season in 2018. They won the opening game in 2018 but ultimately lost the series to the Washington Capitals in five games.
The Florida Panthers are back in the Cup final for the first time since 1996 when they were swept by the Colorado Avalanche. This was 27 years ago, 18 months before Matthew Tkachuk, the Panthers’ leading scorer in this year’s playoffs, was born.
This matchup between the Golden Knights and the Panthers is the 66th different pairing in NHL history for the Cup final and the 46th since the expansion era began in 1967-68. It is noteworthy that this is only the third time since the turn of the century that the final features two teams that have never won the league championship, following the Washington-Vegas matchup and two other occasions.