Recap: Panthers off to see Stanley after pulling out 4-3 win over Hurricanes
He did it again! Matthew Tkachuk scored his third game-winning goal of the series with 4.9 seconds remaining in regulation to give the Florida Panthers a 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes, sending the Cats to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in franchise history.
The win marked the first time in franchise history that the Panthers have swept a series.
After Jordan Staal was sent to the penalty box for tripping at 19:03, the Panthers moved the puck around the offensive zone before Sam Reinhart ripped a shot off the post. The puck landed on the blade of Aleksander Barkov, who sent it down low to Tkachuk. Tkachuk wheeled out from behind the net and beat Frederik Andersen with Sam Bennett wreaking havoc in front to complete the sweep of the Metropolitan Division winners.
The Panthers started strong and built the first and only two-goal of the series.
Anthony Duclair opened the scoring 41 seconds into the tilt, lifting his own rebound over Andersen after he initially hit the post following two great passes by Carter Verhaeghe and Barkov.
Tkachuk extended the lead at 10:23 mark when he gathered in the puck, after Aaron Ekblad's crossing pass was blocked by Brent Burns, and slipped it between Andersen's pads. Gustav Forsling got the second helper on the power-play goal which came with seven seconds left in Sebastian Aho's minor for interference.
The Hurricanes would cut the lead in half 2:43 later. After taking a drop pass from Jordan Martinook, Brady Skjei cranked a shot off the left post that Sergei Bobrovsky could not cover, leaving it loose for Paul Stastny to poke over the line.
Teuvo Teravainen's first of the postseason evened it up 2:51 into the second. Jesperi Kotkaniemi came up with a nifty steal behind the net and fed Skjei at the left point. Skjei's subsequent shot shattered Colin White's stick and the puck ended up on Teravainen's blade in the slot and he solved Bobrovsky up high.
Florida weathered the storm and regained the lead at 9:49 when Ryan Lomberg, who helped keep Carolina from exiting the zone, finished off a pretty passing play involving himself, Eric Staal and Colin White. Just a great goal from the fourth line!
Florida was a little too passive in the final frame and the desperate Hurricanes knotted it up again at 16:38 when Martinook's backhand centering pass from below the goal line got caught between Bennett's skates before Jesper Fast quickly pumped the puck past Bobrovsky, ending the goaltender's amazing run of eight games of allowing two goals or less. Jalen Chatfield picked up the secondary assist on the Hurricanes final tally of the season.
With yet another overtime looming Tkachuk ended it and won Florida's its second Prince of Wales Trophy. His goal stood after The Situation Room in Toronto initiated a review to determine if there was goaltender interference on the play. With stodgy Charlie Windsor finally ascending the throne, could this be a friendly omen for the Cats?
The en fuego Panthers are the third team in NHL history to eliminate three of the NHL's top four teams in the same postseason, joining the 1969 Montreal Canadiens and 1980 New York Islanders. What a ride! One more leg of the journey to go.
Wind & Shudders
- Matthew Tkachuk's goal at 19:55 of the third period is tied for the latest series-clinching regulation goal in league history. Nick Metz also did it for the Toronto Maple Leafs against the New York Rangers in the 1942 Semifinals.
- Aleksander Barkov, who had two primary assists, is the first Finland-born captain to lead a team to the Stanley Cup Final. After missing most of Game 3, Barkov returned to the lineup and registered two shots, four hits, two blocks and won 61% of his faceoffs.
- Sam Bennett led the Panthers with six shots on goal and also had four hits, including a monster check on defenseman Jaccob Slavin, who had to leave the game.
- Huge game for Carolina's Brady Skjei. He assisted on two goals and was credited with a game-high 11 hits in 25:40 TOI.
- Hats off to Panthers penalty kill. After allowing two power-play goals in Game 1 they did not yield another over the final three games.
- Sergei Bobrovsky finished with 36 saves to raise his postseason record to 11-2. Frederik Andersen stopped 20 of 24 shots for Carolina.
- The Hurricane warning is over. Head off to Canes Country for their final recap of the 2022-23 campaign.