EDMONTON – They’re so close they can taste it.

Taking a 3-0 lead in the series and moving within one win of their ultimate goal, the Florida Panthers rode an electric three-goal third period to a 4-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Place on Thursday.

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

“I think it’s one of those things where we enjoy this one,” Panthers defenseman Brandon Montour said of being so close to hoisting Lord Stanley. “We’ve had a long couple days here recently. Enjoy tonight. Rest and be ready for the next one.”

Before breaking the ice, the Panthers got it done on the penalty kill.

Shutting down the Oilers on their two power plays in the first period, Florida’s penalty kill surrendered five shots on goal and four scoring chances. On Edmonton’s best look of the period, Sergei Bobrovsky gobbled up a dangerous re-direct from Connor McDavid.

In the zone early, Bobrovsky made 13 saves in the first period.

Rewarding their goaltender just before the first intermission, Aleksander Barkov forced a turnover at the blue and sent play the other way. On the ensuing rush, Sam Reinhart went to the net and tipped in a shot from Gustav Forsling into to put the Panthers up 1-0 at 18:58.

Reinhart gets Florida on the board to make it 1-0.

Getting the Oilers back to even early in the second period, Warren Foegele beat Bobrovsky with a wicked shot from the bottom of the left circle on a breakaway to make it 1-1 at 1:49.

Taking advantage of a miscue from Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner, Eetu Luostarinen pounced on a misplayed puck behind the net and sent a centering feed into the slot where Vladimir Tarasenko buried a one-timer to put Florida up 2-1 at 9:12.

Over the last four games, Tarasenko has scored two goals.

Tarasenko makes it 2-1 in the second period.

From there, the floodgates opened.

Extending his point streak to six games, Sam Bennett – aka “Playoff Sam” – upped the lead to 3-1 for the Panthers when he took a pass from Matthew Tkachuk, who threaded the puck right through Darnell Nurse, and beat Skinner with a quick shot from the slot at 13:57.

Keeping their foot on the gas, the Panthers tacked on another goal when Barkov finished off a give-and-go with Evan Rodrigues by ripping a shot off the crossbar and into the twine to make it 4-1 at 15:31 and silence a once-rowdy crowd.

Barkov makes it 4-1 in the second.

A contender for the Conn Smythe, that goal eventually went on to stand as Barkov’s fourth game-winner of this postseason.

“He’s so dominant on both sides of the puck,” Montour said of No. 16. “He makes it hard [on the other team]. As good as he is on offense, he shows up defensively and makes those big-time blocks. His stick’s so long that it’s tough to get around him. He’s a big, big, big, big part of what we’re doing here. I’m happy the whole hockey world can see that.”

All three of Florida’s second-period goals were scored within a span of 6:19.

“It was big for us,” Bennett said of the scoring spree. “Goals are tough to come by, especially in the Cup Final. It was a big period for us, but I think it just started with our defense. That’s how we were able to generate that offense.”

Not going down without a fight, the Oilers found some life in the third period.

After Philip Broberg fired a shot from the right circle that went off a defender and into the cage to cut Edmonton’s deficit to 4-2 at 6:02, McLeod tipped in a long shot from Brett Kulak to suddenly make it 4-3 at 14:43.

Nearly finding the game-tying goal in the final five minutes of regulation, McLeod was denied a surefire goal on a point-blank shot in the slot by a clutch save from Bobrovsky.

Finishing with 32 saves, that robbery was one of six high-danger stops for Bobrovsky.

“They’re a very skillful offensive team,” Bobrovsky said of the Oilers. “They’ve got smart guys and they’re going to make plays. You just focus on each and every moment. It’s a fun challenge to play against them because they bring the best and make smart plays.”

In their last-ditch effort to even the score, the Oilers pulled Skinner with roughly 1:27 left on the clock, but couldn’t manage to even register a shot on goal with their 6-on-5 advantage.

With Aaron Ekblad pinning the puck along the boards, the Panthers held on for the 4-3 win.

“The offense generated in the third period was more contextual,” Panthers head coach Paul Maurice said. “We got a big lead. The first one [for Edmonton] goes in off Niko (Mikkola), off the post, almost behind it, so kind of like a bad break. The next one’s a good tip, but it’s also not a three-pass play or nine-guys-at-the-net kind of play. The best chance that Edmonton had didn’t go in, and that’s Sergei Bobrovsky. You have that faith in the net.”

With three wins down and just one more to go, the Panthers remain focused.

When the puck drops in Game 4 on Saturday, the Stanley Cup will be in the building.

“It’s there for us, but you don’t think about it,” Barkov said. “You can’t think about it. All you have to do is just take it one moment at a time. We’re going to enjoy this win. We battled really hard today. We had a good win.”


“I just think we play the right way. Through our experience the last two years, we’ve built a game that we’ve found to have success with.” – Brandon Montour

“We’ll keep staying with the moment. It’s a great win for us tonight. We’ll enjoy tonight and get ready for the next moment.” – Sergei Bobrovsky

“The job’s not finished.” – Sam Bennett


- Vladimir Tarasenko recorded the fourth Stanley Cup Final goal of his career.

- The Panthers scored at least three goals for the seventh time this postseason.

- Gustav Forsling recorded his eighth assist of playoffs, matching Ed Jovanovski’s franchise record for most assists by a defenseman in a single postseason.

- Aleksander Barkov recorded his eighth multi-point game of this postseason.

- The Panthers are the 29th team in NHL history to lead 3-0 in the Stanley Cup Final.

- The Panthers improved to 7-2 on the road this postseason.

- Florida surrendered just six shots on goal in the third period.


The Panthers will grab their brooms and try to finish off a rare sweep in the Stanley Cup Final when they battle the Oilers in Game 4 at Rogers Place on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.

If you’re back in South Florida, the watch party at Amerant Bank Arena is the place to be.

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