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SUNRISE, Fla. -- Matthew Tkachuk and the Florida Panthers have experienced a lot in making two consecutive trips to the Stanley Cup Final, so it was not surprising to hear him give such an honest assessment of their 3-0 victory against the Edmonton Oilers in Game 1 at Amerant Bank Arena on Saturday.

“I guess it feels good,” Tkachuk said. “It's always good to get a win, but we’ve got a lot of things to clean up and to get better at. They played well and we played well enough to win, just really grinded it out and played really well defensively.”

Tkachuk didn’t mention Sergei Bobrovsky in that answer but had previously credited the goalie as being a major factor in the victory. Bobrovsky made 32 saves for his third career Stanley Cup Playoff shutout and was particularly good in erasing Florida’s mistakes early. The Panthers were outshot 12-4 in the first period but emerged from it leading 1-0 on Carter Verhaeghe’s goal at 3:59.

Although the Panthers got better as the game progressed and played their best in the third period when protecting a 2-0 lead, they also know they have plenty of room for improvement ahead of Game 2 of the best-of-7 series on Monday (8 p.m. ET; ABC, ESPN+, SN, TVAS, CBC).

“I think definitely we can be better,” Verhaeghe said. “There’s always things we can improve on. I think after a week [off before Game 1], we’ll take a win any way we can get it. But they outshot us, they had a lot more chances than us. We shut it down, played good defensively, but there’s lots of things we can improve on.”

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Edmonton outshot Florida 32-18 and had a 70-42 advantage in shot attempts. Unlike in previous series, the Panthers had trouble breaking out of their zone cleanly with the puck, particularly in the first period, and had some breakdowns that forced Bobrovsky to make key saves on Adam Henrique and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the first period and Mattias Janmark in the second.

Rust could’ve been a factor. Florida hadn’t played since a 2-1 win against the New York Rangers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final last Saturday, but Edmonton closed out the Dallas Stars with a 2-1 victory in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final just one day later.

With Bobrovksy holding down the fort, however, the Panthers were able to take advantage of the Oilers' lapses in defensive coverage on Verhaeghe’s goal and the one from Evan Rodrigues that made it 2-0 at 2:16 of the second.

“I thought our third period was our best period,” Rodrigues said. “After a week off, it seemed like we were a little tense at the beginning throwing some pucks away, not doing some things we’re used to doing, but I thought we got better in the second and I thought we were really good in the third.”

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Coach Paul Maurice also liked the Panthers’ third period. Although the Oilers had a 7-6 advantage in shots on goal, the Panthers did a much better job of limiting their quality chances against Bobrovsky. Plus, Edmonton had only one shot on goal after pulling goalie Stuart Skinner for an extra attacker with 2:17 remaining.

“I'm not going to say I liked it because we dominated,” Maurice said. “That's not the context that we're in. We have a two-goal lead, and you run about probably legitimately 2:05 that he's coming out of the net. ... I liked our third, and I liked our third period in Game 6 against the Rangers, kind of the same situation that we played. I think that's important to be able to do that, especially sometimes in these games, in the tight games.”

There were other things to like as well. Bobrovsky deserved a bunch of the credit, but any game in which the Oilers' super duo of Connor McDavid (six shots on goal) and Leon Draisaitl (four) doesn't get a point is a good one. Florida also held Edmonton’s high-octane power play to six shots on goal on three opportunities.

The Panthers weren’t satisfied, though. After losing to the Vegas Golden Knights in five games in the Cup Final last season, they’re on a mission to win their first championship this season. And they know they’ll need to improve as the series progresses.

“There's an understanding,” Maurice said. “They've seen our game enough. What's this one tonight? Hundred (games this season between the regular season and playoffs). I think we banged out 103 last year. They’ve had an opportunity to see us play, play well, things that we're good at, so we got lots of room to improve, which is the positive for us tonight.”

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