Florida Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk scored twice to spark a series sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday in Sunrise, Fla. File Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo
May 25 (UPI) -- Matthew Tkachuk scored twice, including the game-winner, to lead the Florida Panthers to a Game 4 victory, sweeping the Carolina Hurricanes and clinching a spot in the Stanley Cup Final.
Center Aleksander Barkov logged two assists in the 4-3 triumph Wednesday at FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, Fla. Forwards Anthony Duclair and Ryan Lomberg also scored in the win. The wild card Panthers beat the top-seeded Hurricanes 4-0.
The Panthers will meet the Vegas Golden Knights or Dallas Stars in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on June 3.
"The people in this area support and believe in us, but there aren't many people out there that do. We know we've played some really good teams in this playoffs and the next team is going to be unbelievable as well. ... It's a similar feel of being the underdog and trying to prove people wrong again."
Duclair beat Hurricanes goalie Frederik Andersen for the first goal of the night 41 seconds into the first period. Tkachuk followed when he scored on a power play less than 10 minutes later.
Hurricanes forward Paul Stastny cut into the deficit less than three minutes later for the final score of the first period. Fellow Hurricanes forward Teuvo Teravainen tied the score 2:51 into the second period.
Lomberg put the Panthers back on top midway through the bridge period. Hurricanes forward Jesper Fast tied the game at 3-3 with 3:22 remaining in the game, setting the stage for Tkachuk's winner.
Forward Sam Reinhart ripped an initial shot on the final scoring sequence, which hit the post and bounced to Barkov in the right circle. Barkov then slid a pass to Tkachuk, who skated behind the goal.
Tkachuk brought in the feed, skated around a crowd and lifted a shot into the left side of the net, scoring the game-winner with five seconds remaining in regulation.
"He has been amazing for us all season long," Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky told NHL.com. "He knows how to score big goals. He gives us wins all season long and has been great all season long, especially in the playoffs. We are fortunate to have him."
Bobrovsky totaled 36 saves in the victory. Carter Verhaeghe, Reinhart, Eric Staal, Colin White, Aaron Ekblad and Gustav Forsling registered assists for the Panthers. Andersen made 20 saves for the Hurricanes. Jordan Martinook and Brady Skjei logged two assists apiece for the Hurricanes.
Game 4 of the Stars-Golden Knights series will start at 8 p.m. EDT Thursday in Dallas. The Golden Knights own a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference finals.