The Florida Panthers are off to the Stanley Cup Finals for the second time in franchise history. On Wednesday, the Panthers defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 at FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, Florida to sweep the best out of seven series four games to none.
Dramatic Game-Winning Goal
Matthew Tkachuk of Scottsdale, Arizona scored the game-winning goal with five seconds left in the third period to break a 3-3 tie. Tkachuk’s goal was a power-play marker and came from Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov of Tampere, Finland and Sam Reinhart of West Vancouver, British Columbia.
This goal was not an overtime winner, but it was extremely close to being one. The Hurricanes did not have much of a chance to tie the game off the faceoff with five seconds left in regulation from the center ice faceoff circle. For Tkachuk, it was his fourth game-winning goal of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but first game-winning goal in the postseason that came in regulation, as the other three game-winning goals came in extra time. Center Brad Richards of Murray Harbour, Prince Edward Island has the National Hockey League record for most game-winning goals in a single postseason as he had seven when the Lightning won the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals.
Looking back at 1996
The first time the Panthers reached the Stanley Cup Finals was in 1996. That was their third year of existence. Florida beat the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins, before being swept in the finals by the Colorado Avalanche.
Reaching the Stanley Cup Finals as the eighth seed
The fact that the Panthers are in the Stanley Cup Finals is a remarkable story when you consider the fact they were the eighth seed. In addition to beating the Hurricanes they eliminated the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins. Three prior teams have reached the Stanley Cup Final as the eighth seed. They are the 2006 Edmonton Oilers, the 2012 Los Angeles Kings and the 2017 Nashville Predators.