Stanley Cup Final: Panthers edge Oilers, move within one win of first title

Florida Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk registered an assist in a 4-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Thursday in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. File Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI
Florida Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk registered an assist in a 4-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Thursday in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. File Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

June 13 (UPI) -- Vladimir Tarasenko, Sam Bennett and Aleksander Barkov scored three goals in a 6-minute, 19-second span to lead the Florida Panthers to a win over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.

The trio of goals came in the second period, powering the 4-3 triumph at Rodgers Place and putting the Panthers within one win of their first title.


"We were trying to shut them down," Bennett said on the ABC broadcast. "They have a lot offensive skill and talent. We knew they were going to push, but we held it."

Game 4 of the best-of-seven-game series will be Saturday on the same ice in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Only one team in NHL history -- the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs -- overcame a 3-0 Stanley Cup Final deficit and won the title.


"It's exciting, but we've got a job to do," Bennett said. "We've gotta come prepared to play."

Barkov and forward Sam Reinhart each recorded one goal and one assist. Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made 32 saves, tied for his highest total this postseason. Star forward Connor McDavid logged two assists in the loss.

McDavid and the Oilers, who edged the Panthers 35-23 in shots on goal, threatened often throughout the first period. But it was Reinhart who drew first blood with just 62 seconds remaining in the frame.

Barkov poked the puck off the stick of Oilers defender Evan Bouchard to start that play. Barkov also gained control and raced through the neutral zone. He then skated back the other way and fired a pass over to defenseman Gustav Forsling.

Forsling proceeded to rip the puck toward the net. Reinhart stuck out his stick just above the crease, deflecting the puck into the net behind goalie Stuart Skinner, lighting the lamp for the first time.

The Oilers tied the score just 109 seconds into the second period. Bennett inadvertently sparked that score for the Oilers when he hit a shot off the back wall. The puck ricocheted off the boards and sprayed back to the outside. Oilers forward Adam Henrique earned possession near the blue line and fired a pass to forward Warren Foegele, who skated up the middle lane and drifted into the neutral zone.


Foegele kept the puck glued to his stick blade until he reached the circles and unleashed a powerful wrist shot past Bobrovsky's glove side.

The Panthers jumped ahead once again less than eight minutes later, capitalizing on a mistake from Skinner. Panthers forward Anton Lundell fired the puck behind the goal during a forecheck at the start of that sequence. Skinner scrambled off his line and went to retrieve the puck, but was unable to maintain control.

Panthers forward Eetu Luostarinen flew into the area and grabbed the puck. He then fired a pass back to Tarasenko, who finished the play with a wrist shot into the right side of the net.

Bennett doubled the Panthers lead with 6:03 remaining in the bridge frame, capitalizing on yet another Oilers error. The Panthers forward first helped force a turnover from Oilers defender Darnell Nurse to spark the score.

Fellow forward Matthew Tkachuk then gained possession and slid a pass back to Bennett as he drifted toward the far post. Bennett finished the play with a snap shot just inside the left post.

The Panthers scoring splurge continued when Barkov beat Skinner for a fourth time less than two minutes later. Panthers and Oilers players first battled for the puck deep in Florida territory.


Reinhart then found forward Evan Rodrigues on the other end of the ice. Rodrigues proceeded to split two defenders with a pass to Barkov, who flew past the blue line before unleashing a wrist shot that flew between into the upper-left corner of the net.

The Panthers carried their 4-1 edge into the third period, but the Oilers offense didn't surrender. Nurse and McDavid assisted defenseman Philip Broberg for the Oilers' second score 6:02 into the final frame.

McDavid and defenseman Brett Kulak went on to assist another goal from forward Ryan McLeod with 5:17 remaining, cutting the deficit to just a single goal.

Oilers fans -- who were hushed by the Panthers' second-period surge -- boosted their voices in support after the McLeod goal and the home team pulled Skinner to gain an extra attacker.


But the Panthers defense smothered their foes and did not allow a game-tying goal over the dramatic final minute of Game 3, securing their 3-0 series lead.

Game 4 will be at 8 p.m. Saturday in Edmonton. Game 5, if necessary, will be Tuesday in Sunrise, Fla.

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