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NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs

So Close: Golden Knights Had It, Lose Game 3 in OT, 3-2 to Florida Panthers



Vegas Golden Knights Lose Game 3 in OT, 3-2 Florida Panthers

Hearts were beating loudly across South Florida. With a 3-0 series lead for the Vegas Golden Knights or a 3-0 deficit for the Florida Panthers hanging in the balance, the Golden Knights were two minutes away from victory, but as he’s done throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs, Matthew Tkachuk scored a big goal in the final minutes.

Tkachuk buried a rebound chance to tie the game after Florida pulled Sergei Bobrovsky for the extra attacker to force overtime.

Carter Verhaeghe (7) saved the Florida season with the OT winner, a glove-side wrister past Golden Knights goalie Adin Hill. Florida won Game 3, 3-2, at FLA Live Arena Thursday.

Florida is 7-0 in OT through the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs. The Golden Knights fell to 3-2. The Golden Knights lead the SCF 2-1.

For most of the game, the Golden Knights continued to flex their superiority, limiting the Panthers to only three shots in the first 10 minutes of the final period. The Golden Knights blocked 31 shots in regulation and limited Florida to just 22 shots.

Game 4 is Saturday at FLA Live Arena.

In one of the great statistical anomalies of the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Golden Knights were 8-3 when allowing the first goal. They allowed the first goal for the 12th time Thursday but couldn’t hold the third period lead.

Just four minutes into the game, Florida claimed the lead in front of the home fans. Defenseman Brandon Montour (7) stepped into the high slot and blistered a top-shelf wrist shot over Adin Hill, who crouched to see through the mass of bodies in front of the net.

Montour, who flew home to Florida between Games 1 and 2 to attend the birth of his son, scored his first goal of the Cup Final.

However, the Golden Knights rallied, as they’ve done throughout the playoffs. Later in the first period, Florida couldn’t help themselves. A pair of bad penalties gave the Golden Knights a 4v3 power play. First, defenseman Radko Gudas negated a Florida power play when he retaliated with a cross-check on William Carrier, who boarded him. Anthony Duclair took a tripping minor just 23 seconds later.

It took the Golden Knights a mere 23 seconds to score as Mark Stone deflected Jonathan Marchessault’s shot past Florida goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.

Carrier had three minor penalties in the first 21 minutes.

The Golden Knights took the first six shots of the second period and didn’t allow Florida a shot on goal for the first nine minutes. That level of physical superiority and domination highlighted the Golden Knights’ Game 3 effort.

Later in the second, the Golden Knights put a lump in Florida’s throat when they claimed a 2-1 lead with another power-play goal. Jack Eichel circled the net at full speed and set up Marchessault for a little Misfit magic.

Marchessault (13) snapped a perfect wrist shot into the top corner. It was his 11th goal in the last 10 games. That’s a hot streak.

Florida ceded six power plays to the Golden Knights, who scored twice. The previously beleaguered Golden Knights penalty kill, which began the series near 62%, remained perfect in the Stanley Cup Final by killing the all five chances.

The Panthers missed Tkachuk for half of the first period and the start of the second period after Golden Knights winger Keegan Kolesar plowed Tkachuk with a clean open-ice hit.

Bobrovsky was brilliant in the second and third periods. After the teams had just five shots each in the first period, the Golden Knights peppered Bobrovksy with 13 shots and nine scoring chances. He stopped 25 of 27.

Hill was stellar in the first period as he faced 10 scoring chances. The teams finished the opening period tied 1-1.

Hill made 20 saves.

This is Florida’s second Stanley Cup Final. Their last was in 1996, but the organization didn’t earn their first Stanley Cup Final win until Thursday. They were swept by the Colorado Avalanche in 1996.

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