Panthers rally to beat Oilers, go up 2-0 in Stanley Cup Final

Jordan McPherson, Miami Herald on

Published in Hockey

SUNRISE, Fla. — For a brief moment on Monday, Sergei Bobrovsky looked mortal. A puck trickled past the Florida Panthers’ star goaltender and into the net midway through the first period, giving the Edmonton Oilers life early in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.

And then the Panthers did what they’re so good at doing. They waited for their moment, they rallied and they shut the game down.

Final score from Amerant Bank Arena: Panthers 4, Oilers 1.

Florida now leads the best-of-7 series 2-0 as the series shifts to Edmonton, with Game 3 on Thursday and Game 4 on Saturday at Rogers Place. Both games are scheduled for 8 p.m. puck drops.

But beyond the game, the Panthers might have more pressing matters to tend to after captain and top-line center Aleksander Barkov left the game with 9:28 left to play after taking a high hit from Leon Draisaitl in Florida’s defensive zone.

It was the third time in the game the Panthers had a player leave with injury. Eetu Luostarinen was slow to the bench in the first period after getting kneed by Edmonton’s Warren Foegele, which resulted in Foegele being ejected. Aaron Ekblad also left for a brief stint in the first period after an awkward collision behind the net with Connor McDavid.

Luostarinen and Ekblad returned to the game. Barkov did not.

Meanwhile, as far as the game and result are concerned ...


Defenseman Niko Mikkola tied the game for Florida 9:34 into the second period after receiving the puck on an Anton Lundell drop pass. Forward Evan Rodrigues then gave the Panthers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish 3:11 into the third when he took advantage of sloppy play in the Oilers’ offensive zone before firing off a wrist shot that beat Stuart Skinner. Rodrigues added a second goal with 7:34 left in regulation on the power play. Rodrigues has three goals through two Stanley Cup Final games. Ekblad sealed it with an empty-netter with 2:28 left in regulation.

Bobrovsky did the rest, stopping the final 18 shots he faced after giving up a goal on the first shot he faced — a dribbler from Oilers defenseman Mattias Ekholm 11:17 into the first period with the game at four-on-four. The biggest save of them all perhaps came with 5:53 left in regulation when he stopped McDavid on a breakaway.

This came after Bobrovsky posted a 32-save shutout in Game 1 on Saturday.

In Game 1, Bobrovsky had to come up with heroics time and again to will Florida to the win.

In Game 2, Florida’s defense tightened up and limited the Oilers from getting good looks for most of the night.

Two wins down. Two to go.

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