The Florida Panthers’ improbable playoff run has continued in impressive fashion through the first three games of the Eastern Conference Finals. After knocking off the top seeded Boston Bruins in seven games, the Panthers needed just five games to dismantle the Toronto Maple Leafs and move on to face the Carolina Hurricanes.
Despite winning seven of their last eight games to advance to the conference finals, the Panthers still entered the series with the Canes as big underdogs. Carolina was the overall betting favorite to take home the Stanley Cup prior to game one of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cats. Fast forward three games and the Panthers have now won ten of their last eleven games and sit just one win away from the Stanley Cup Final,with a commanding 3-0 series lead over the Hurricanes.
Florida needed nearly seven full periods of hockey to win game one, followed by another overtime win in game two, before heading home to Sunrise with a 2-0 lead. Thanks to an all-timegreat goaltending performance in game 3 by Sergei Bobrovsky, the Panthers were able to shut out the Hurricanes and win game three with no bonus hockey needed. This put the Panthers just a game away from sweeping the Hurricanes and winning their second ever Eastern Conference Championship.
The Panthers will look to close the door on Carolina’s season and finish out the sweep during game four on Wednesday night. If the Cats can complete the sweep in Sunrise, they will lift the conference championship trophy in front of their home crowd for the first time ever. Despite the 3-0 series lead, all three of Florida’s wins against the Canes have been by one goal, so a highly competitive game four is sure to follow.
The puck will drop for game four at 8pm on Wednesday night and the Panthers will look to their red-hot goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to continue his dominant play. Bobrovsky shutout the Canes in game three and has only allowed one even strength goal all series. Goalies have gotten hot and carried teams to championships in recent years and the Panthers are hoping that trend continues.
The Panthers will have some additional help as their captain Aleksander Barkov is expected to play after leaving the ice with an injury during game 3. Barkov has played very well in this series and has shouldered the load offensively along with Matthew Tkachuk. If Barkov and Tkachuk can continue to produce offensively, with Bobrovsky being a brick wall behind them, the Panthers have a very good chance to close out this series and advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
The FLA Live Arena will be rocking, and Cats fans will be looking to launch their rats onto the ice before the trophy ceremony, if all goes according to plan for the Panthers. If you can’t make it out to Sunrise for the game, you can check it out nationally on TNT.
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