July 15, 2024

2024 Stanley Cup Final: Florida Panthers win their first NHL championship as Oilers come up short in Game 7

The Florida Panthers have secured their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. In Game 7 on Monday night, the Panthers edged the Edmonton Oilers, 2-1, and avoided coughing up a 3-0 series lead.

Star forward Sam Reinhart led the way for the Panthers as he tallied the game-winning goal late in the second period.At the 15:11 mark of the second period, the Panthers were able to turn defense into offense. Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov rescued the puck out of danger after it sat in front of the Florida net late in the frame.

Reinhart ended up with the puck in the offensive zone, skated into the face-off circle, and snapped a scorching shot past goaltender Stuart Skinner. It was the first goal for Reinhart since Game 3 of the series. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who had a 4.00 goals-against-average in Game 4-6, rose to the occasion when the Panthers needed him the most. Bobrovsky saw the puck well throughout Game 7 and turned aside 23 of the 24 shots that he faced.

Despite falling short of completing a historic comeback, Oilers star Connor McDavid won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the entire NHL postseason. McDavid tallied 42 points (eight goals and 34 assists) throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which was the fourth-highest point total in a single postseason.

McDavid also became just the sixth player in NHL history to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as a member of the losing team. He also joined Reggie Leach (1976) as the only skater to win the award.

Florida opened the scoring just 4:27 into the opening period. Panthers forward Evan Rodrigues threw a shot towards the net that appeared to be heading several inches wide. However, teammate Carter Verhaeghe was able to deflect the puck past Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner for the goal. The tally snapped a six-game goalless streak for Verhaeghe after he scored the opening goal of Game 1. Verhaeghe is tied with teammate Matthew Tkachuk for the most goals (11) in a single postseason.

Just over two minutes later, veteran defenseman Cody Ceci noticed Mattias Janmark streaking behind the defense and placed a sensational pass on Janmark’s stick at the other end of the ice. Janmark didn’t miss in all alone on Bobrovsky.

The Oilers were looking to become just the second team in NHL history to erase a 3-0 series deficit to win the Stanley Cup. The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs are the only team that has achieved such a feat in league history.