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Bobrovsky shines, Panthers blank Oilers 3-0 in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final

SUNRISE — Sergei Bobrovsky made 32 saves and recorded the third playoff shutout of his career as the Florida Panthers defeated the Edmonton Oilers 3-0 on Saturday to take a 1-0 lead in the Stanley Cup final.

SUNRISE — Sergei Bobrovsky made 32 saves and recorded the third playoff shutout of his career as the Florida Panthers defeated the Edmonton Oilers 3-0 on Saturday to take a 1-0 lead in the Stanley Cup final.

Carter Verhaeghe, Evan Rodrigues and Eetu Luostarinen scored into an empty net for Florida. Aleksander Barkov had two assists.

Stuart Skinner stopped 15 shots for Edmonton.

Game 2 of a title series with the longest distance between competing cities in NHL history returns Monday to Amerant Arena before the best-of-seven series shifts to Alberta’s capital.

The Oilers are in the finals for the first time since 2006 and are looking for their first sip of hockey’s holy grail since winning the franchise’s fifth Cup in 1990.

The Panthers never climbed the NHL mountain again after their championship games in 1996 and 2023.

Florida opened the scoring at 3:59 of the first period when Verhaeghe scored his 10th goal of the postseason on a smooth feed from Barkov on the home team’s first shot.

The Oilers, looking to become the first Canadian team to bring the Cup across the border since the 1993 Montreal Canadiens, controlled much of the action from there but couldn’t solve Bobrovsky.

The Panthers goalkeeper denied Connor McDavid a decent chance before Edmonton center Adam Henrique crushed Florida defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson with a big strike behind the net.

Edmonton killed its 29th straight penalty later in the period before Henrique was denied by Bobrovsky on a breakaway and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was stoned on a power-play move to the backhand as the Panthers went more than 10 minutes without a shot.

Edmonton’s torrid man advantage couldn’t connect on an opportunity that stretched from late in the first to early in the second – Zach Hyman fired high from close range with Bobrovsky down and out – before Florida doubled the lead.

Sam Bennett beat Oilers defenseman Cody Ceci with the puck in the corner and caught both Darnell Nurse and Evander Kane in front as Rodrigues scored his fourth at 2:16.

Bobrovsky then went to work, stopping a Bouchard chance that was knocked out of the air, a Ceci blast that appeared to hit teammate Corey Perry in the crease.

Bennett then beat McDavid – his minor hockey teammate who grew up in the Greater Toronto Area – with a big check.

Things got a little nasty in what was expected to be a physical series when Connor Brown pushed both Bobrovsky and the frozen puck into the Florida net in a sequence that was immediately waved away.

In the finals for the second time in 12 months after falling to the Vegas Golden Knights last June, the Panthers found themselves under siege on another power play in Edmonton – a top mark of 37.3 percent in the playoffs that Saturday started – later in the period.

Bobrovsky held off McDavid and Bouchard before Nugent-Hopkins shot high over the net. Warren Foegele had a pair of chances moments later, which the 35-year-old netminder also thwarted as fans at Amerant Arena chanted his name as the Oilers led 26-12 on the shot clock through 40 minutes.

Bobrovsky held on early in the third with a save on McDavid on a layup by Leon Drasaitl.

Edmonton completed its 30th straight power play later in the period and had a few more chances at the other end, but still couldn’t solve the Florida netminder before Luostarinen put the ball away late.

GOOD START

The winner of Game 1 in a best-of-seven final has an all-time series record of 64-20 (.762). The last three cup winners won the opener, but all three from 2018 to 2020 recovered from 1-0 deficits.

IN THE HOUSE

The cup was on the ice before the opening game for the first time since the 1960s. It appeared in the stands prior to Game 1 of the 2020 finals in Edmonton’s fanless COVID-19 bubble.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 8, 2024.

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Follow @JClipperton_CP on X.

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press



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