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Panthers Look to Move Within One Game of Stanley Cup Final

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Courtesy @FlaPanthers

The Florida Panthers shocking playoff run has continued as theyhave won the first two games of the Eastern Conference Final on the road in Carolina. The eight seed Cats weren’t given much of a chance to even get through the first round against the top seeded Boston Bruins, but now sit just two wins away from the second Stanley Cup Final appearance in franchise history. The Panthers are returning home to Sunrise for games three and four and are hungry for a sweep after two nail biting overtime victories against the Hurricanes.

Matthew Tkachuk has been the hero so far this series, burying the game winner in the Cats’ historic game one victory in quadruple overtime, as well as the game winner in the first overtime of game two. Tkachuk went viral for his celebrations after both goals as he immediately pointed to the exit and sprinted into the locker room with his teammates following behind. The ‘Cardiac Cats’ hope to keep their winning ways going, with maybe a little less stress, as the the series shifts to South Florida on Monday night. 

Sergei Bobrovsky will be in net for the Panthers in game three,looking to take a nearly insurmountable 3-0 series lead. While Tkachuk’s game winning goals have received most of the headlines, it’s been Bob’s incredible saves that kept the Cats in position to win both games one and two. Without impressive late game saves in both of the first games, the Panthers likely lose both games in regulation and the series has a much different feel. Bobrovsky struggled mightily for parts of the regular season and was benched multiple times, but has returned to the goaltender the Panthers thought they were getting when they signed him to a 7yr-$70 million contract. 

The play of the Panthers’ stars has been the story so far this series. Tkachuk, Bobrovsky and the captain, Sasha Barkov, have all made huge plays to put the Cats in this position as game three approaches. When this roster was built last season, this was the trio that many expected to carry the Panthers to a deep playoff run, but a disappointing regular season greatly tampered those expectations. After many were calling for firings and benching’s, it looks like things have finally clicked and those preseason expectations are being met and even exceeded. If this level of play from the hockey stars of South Florida continues, the Panthers have a very good chance to finish out these final six wins to bring home the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

The first chance to close in on those final six wins will be during game three at 8PM on Monday night on TNT. The FLA Live Arena will be rocking harder than it possibly ever has before for a Panthers game and the Cats will be looking to capitalize on that energy. A raucous arena, great goaltending and consistent play from their stars will hopefully be the recipe for another Panthers’ win as they creep closer to the Stanley Cup Finals.

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