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Evan Almighty! Rodrigues lifts Panthers to 4-1 win over Oilers

Jun 10, 2024; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers forward Evan Rodrigues (17) celebrates scoring against the Edmonton Oilers during the third period in game two of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final at Amerant Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Evan Rodrigues scored two third period goals to lift the Florida Panthers to a 4-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final at Amerant Bank Arena.

After getting off to a slow start in Game 1, the Panthers played a strong first period, but found themselves down a goal after twenty minutes.

With the teams skating four-on-four, the Cats got too aggressive in the offensive zone, allowing the Oilers to go the other way on a 2-on-1 break after Connor McDavid headmanned to Mattias Ekholm. Ekholm decided to shoot and beat Sergei Bobrovsky five-hole with a routine wrister from the left circle at 11:17. Evan Bouchard drew the secondary assist on Edmonton’s first of the series.

The Panthers remained unfazed, stuck to their process, and got the game-tying goal from an unlikely source 9:34 into the second.

After nearly scoring on his own goalie, Niko Mikkola joined the subsequent rush up ice and teed off on Anton Lundell’s crafty drop pass. With the puck standing on edge, Mikkola fired it by Stuart Skinner’s glove for his second of the postseason. That’s why I say, hey man nice shot! The second assist on the goal went to Vladimir Tarasenko.

Rodrigues, who gave Florida breathing room with a key goal in Game 1, scored the first of his brace 3:11 into the third when Bouchard’s clearing attempt ended up on his blade high in the left circle after Connor Brown blocked his centering pass meant for Kyle Okposo . He loaded up and ripped a shot that caught Ekholm’s stick and on its way to the short side top corner.

The Panthers would make the Oilers pay for Leon Draisaitl’s high hit that sent Aleksander Barkov to the dressing room and it was Rodrigues who notched the first power-play goal of the series.

After taking a pass from Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Rodrigues languid cross sent Lundell into the Edmonton zone with speed and he bulled through a rather ineffective check from Bouchard. Lundell whipped the puck into the lower slot and Rodrigues redirected it past Skinner to give the Cats a two-goal lead with 7:43 left on the clock.

Florida would survive a partial McDavid breakaway and a boneheaded delaying the game penalty on Ekman-Larsson that saw Kris Knoblauch pull Skinner early to no avail.

Aaron Ekblad would seal the deal with an empty-netter from center ice at 17:32 after Sam Bennett forced the puck through Evander Kane and over the Panthers’ blue line.

The Panthers found their game in the final frame of Game 1 and carried it over and then some to last night’s tilt. Florida was clearly the better team in this one, leaving the frustrated Oilers looking for answers after they failed to add another goal over the final 48:43 of action as the Cats rolled to their seventh comeback win of the postseason. The teams will get a couple of days off as the series shifts to Edmonton for the next two games.

Stanley Stuff

  • The Panthers have scored five goals on Stuart Skinner and First Star Evan Rodrigues has three of them. Rodrigues became the first Panther to produce a multigoal effort in a Stanley Cup Final game.
  • Sergei Bobrovsky shook off giving up his first goal of the series on Edmonton’s first shot and finished with 18 saves. Bobrovsky has stopped 50 of 51 shots (.980) over the first two games.
  • Mattias Ekholm’s goal ended the longest streak (115:34) of scoring futility in Edmonton’s playoff history, surpassing the old mark of 109:18 set in 1998. Ekholm had another good chance in the third and knocked Bobrovsky’s mask off.
  • Anton Lundell’s two-assist performance gave him four points in the last four games. He was credited with one shot, two hits a block and seven faceoff wins in 10:49 TOI.
  • Speaking of faceoffs, Kevin Stenlund won 11 of his 15 draws. A stellar job in the dot that helped keep the Cats out of trouble in their own end. Well done, sir!
  • After Matthew Tkachuk did his best Colin White in Game 1, Sam Reinhart played The Invisible Man role in Game 2. One shot attempt? Not good enough.