Kristen ShiltonESPN NHL Reporter4 minute read
florida sunrise — Matthew Tkachuk scored a power-play goal with 4.9 seconds remaining to give Florida a complete victory over the Carolina Hurricanes and send the Panthers to their first Stanley Cup final in 27 years.
With a 4-3 victory in Game 4 Wednesday night, the Panthers won the playoff series for the first time in franchise history. Florida is in its second Cup Finals since 1996 and awaits the winner of the Vegas Golden Knights-Dallas Stars series.
NHL Senior Vice President Brian Jennings was tasked with presenting the Prince of Wales Trophy. After taking a few pictures, University of Florida captain Alexander Barkov grabbed it and skated away. Some teams touch it. Some people don’t. Some of the Panthers did, but Barkov didn’t pass it on.
The Panthers won 1-0 in Game 3 on Monday with Sergey Bobrovski’s 32-save shutout to give the Hurricanes a chance to shut out the game. Florida’s Netminder did another great Wednesday with 36 saves. Frédéric Andersen stopped 21 shots on his side to give Carolina a chance to extend the series.
“It’s amazing,” Bobrovsky said. “We showed resilience…and we’re lucky to have Chucky on our side. He knows how to score big goals.”
In Game 4, Florida took the initiative from the start, and just 41 seconds into the first period, Anthony Duclair fended off Andersen in the pack to take a 1-0 lead while a fierce battle unfolded in front of the Carolina net.
It was just the beginning of a nightmare for the Hurricanes.
Shortly after Duclair scored, Panthers forward Sam Bennett slammed Carolina defenseman Jakob Slavin, who was playing the puck behind the net. Slavin smashed his head into the board and was later sidelined with an upper body injury.
Tkachuk gave Florida a 2-0 advantage on a power play when Sebastian Aho jammed in the box. It was the first time in nearly 14 periods that a team had led by two points in the series. . In his first 272 minutes of the series (including all overtime), every action was either a tie or someone behind him by one.
The Hurricanes, in need of momentum, pushed the puck under a sprawled Bobrovski by Paul Stassney and scored one. It was the first equal goal scored by a Carolina forward against Florida, ending Bobrovski’s streak of 72 saves dating back to Game 2.
Florida held a 2-1 lead going into the second period, but Carolina wasted no time and scored their first playoff goal with Teubo Teraveinen’s midfield goal.
The Panthers took the lead with a goal from Ryan Romberg after a tic-tac-toe play between teammates Mark Stahl and Colin White’s fourth-row players. Florida held onto a 3-2 advantage in the third period and defended it against a desperate Carolina team trying to keep the season alive.
Carolina, looking to equalize, had a crucial power-play chance midway through the third, and Bobrovski had four shots without scoring. At the end of the third period, with just under four minutes remaining, Jesper Fast struck again with a quick attack from up front to level Bobrovski at three points.
A stumbling call in the second half from Carolina captain Jordan Stahl gave Florida a powerplay chance with 57 seconds remaining in regulation. Tkachuk beat Andersen by 4.9 seconds. Carolina manager Rod Brindamour objected to the play for goalkeeper interference, but Tkachuk’s goal clinched Florida’s ticket to the cup final.
This report contains information from the Associated Press.