EDMONTON – The Florida Panthers will try to take a commanding 3-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final when they face the Edmonton Oilers in Game 3 at Rogers Place on Thursday.

In the history of the NHL, teams that go up 3-0 in the Final have won 27 of 28 series.

With that, the Panthers expect a very desperate opponent in the Oilers.

“They’re going to be at their best,” Panthers forward Carter Verhaeghe said. “They have some really good players over there. They’re here for a reason, too. We’re definitely going to get their best game. For us, it’s to keep going, play in our game and play good defensively.”

Keeping Edmonton’s potent offense in check for the second straight game, the Panthers put on a defensive clinic during a 4-1 win at Amerant Bank Arena in Game 2 on Monday.

Limiting the Oilers to just one high-danger shot attempt, the Panthers did their best to make life very easy on Sergei Bobrovsky, who had to stand on his head during Game 1.

Perfect once again on the penalty kill, the Panthers battened down the hatches and gave up nothing during four trips to the power play for the Oilers, who entered the series leading the league with a 37.3% rate of success this postseason.

Yet to score at 5-on-5 or with the man advantage in the series, Edmonton’s only goal in Game 2 came during 4-on-4 play on a 2-on-1 rush from stay-at-home defenseman Mattias Ekholm to make it 1-0 in the first period.

“I thought we were better,” Panthers forward Carter Verhaeghe said of the team’s showing in Game 2. “I thought we got more in on the forecheck. We got more pucks to their net and were solid defensively, too, which is nice. The special teams was also really good.”

After Ekholm opened the scoring in Game 2, the next four goals belonged to the Panthers. After Niko Mikkola evened the score at 1-1 in the second period, Evan Rodrigues, who also lit the lamp in Game 1, scored a pair of goals in the third period to push the lead up to 3-1.

Late in regulation, Aaron Ekblad cashed in on an empty net to lock in the 4-1 win.

For his efforts, Rodrigues has been elevated to the top line in Game 3.

“I think I had that in my head that I’d really look at that coming into Game 3,” Panthers head coach Paul Maurice said of promoting Rodrigues, who shined on several different lines in Game 2. “Even if I didn’t adjust it then, I thought in Game 2 we were kind of right there.”

Surviving a scary incident in the third period, Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov left the ice and did not return after being the victim of a high hit from Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl.

But after returning to practice on Wednesday and attending this morning’s skate, Barkov, who’s logged 19 points (six goals, 13 assists) in 19 playoff games, is good to go and will play in Game 3, according to Maurice.

Vladimir Tarasenko, who missed last practice with a “minor thing,” will also suit up.

“He’s the leader of our group,” Panthers forward Sam Reinhart said of Barkov, this year’s Selke Trophy winner. “It’s never easy when someone like that goes down, especially in a huge part of the game with 10 minutes left. The group stepped up, rallied around it. I think it shows to the character of him and how he bad he wants it as well to get back.”

The Oilers, meanwhile, are looking for answers after being held to just one goal in the series.

Connor McDavid and Draisaitl, two of the top-offensive players in the NHL, have combined for just one assist while firing off a collective 15 shots on goal. Zach Hyman, who entered the series with a team-high 14 goals in the playoffs, has zero points and just three shots.

In terms of injuries, the Oilers also appear unsure about the status of Evander Kane and Darnell Nurse for Game 3. Kane has reportedly been fighting through an injury for a bit, while Nurse saw just 4:20 of ice time in Game 2 after sustaining and first-period injury.

The availability of both players likely won’t be known until warmups.

Between the pipes, Stuart Skinner is expected to get the nod again for the Oilers.

For the Panthers, it’ll be Sergei Bobrovsky.

The first goaltender since 2008 to allow one or fewer goals through the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final, Bobrovsky, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy this season, has given up two or fewer goals in 12 of his last 13 games, posting a 10-3-0 record with a .931 save percentage and two shutouts in that stretch.

Eager to step into enemy territory, the Panthers are also ready to relish playing on the road.

Overall, Florida's .750 road winning percentage in the playoffs (6-2) is the best in the NHL.

“I think the approach is just 20 guys against everybody,” Tkachuk said. “It brings us together. It allows for the mindset to be way more simple. I feel like we have that at home, too, but on the road all the distractions are thrown out the window. It’s just us against everyone.”

Based on how they’ve been playing, the “everyone” he’s referring to better look out.


Goals: Verhaeghe (10)

Assists: Tkachuk (14)

Points: Barkov, Tkachuk (19)

Hits: Bennett (70)

Blocks: Ekblad (37)


Goals: Hyman (14)

Assists: McDavid (27)

Points: McDavid (32)

Hits: Holloway (66)

Blocks: Nurse (48)


“It’s cool coming in [on the road]. You’ve got to take advantage of opportunities like that. You want to be in those moments and be in environments like that. We almost utilize that to our advantage as much as we can. It’s us against everybody, and that suits our game.” – Same Reinhart

“The physicality is part of our game, part of their game. It’s playoff hockey. It seems like in the playoffs things naturally get more physical than the regular season.” – Matthew Tkachuk

“They have really good fans and support their team really well here. It’s going to be really loud in there. These are the games you dream of playing in. It’s going to be awesome getting out there in front of away fans and being the enemy.” – Carter Verhaeghe

“Just try and stay in the moment. You can’t think about yesterday or tomorrow, just where you are. Every game is a new opportunity. It starts 0-0. We have to earn every opportunity, every chance. Just go out there and earn everything.” – Anton Lundell


- Nine different Panthers have registered at least 10 points this postseason.

- The Panthers have recorded seven come-from-behind wins this postseason.

- The Panthers have outscored opponents 28-11 in the third period this postseason.

- Evan Rodrigues has produced two multi-goal games this postseason.

- The Panthers are 6-0 this postseason in games in which Sam Bennett scores a goal.



Evan Rodrigues – Aleksander Barkov – Sam Reinhart

Carter Verhaeghe – Sam Bennett – Matthew Tkachuk

Eetu Luostarinen – Anton Lundell – Vladimir Tarasenko

Steven Lorentz – Kevin Stenlund – Kyle Okposo


Gustav Forsling – Aaron Ekblad

Niko Mikkola – Brandon Montour

Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Dmitry Kulikov


Sergei Bobrovsky

Anthony Stolarz


- May 6: F Patrick Giles recalled from Charlotte (AHL)


When: Thursday, June 13 at 8 p.m. ET

Where: Rogers Place – Edmonton, AB

TV & Streaming: ABC, ESPN+

Radio: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 92.1 WZZR (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); 101.7 WCZR (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM Channel 219 / App & Streaming 932; Panthers App

Watch Party: Amerant Bank Arena

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