Panthers Prevail in Game 3 Thriller Against Knights in Stanley Cup Final | Miami New Times


Back in the Hunt: Panthers Notch First-Ever Win in a Stanley Cup Final Series

The Florida Panthers pulled off a miracle comeback in the first game they've ever won in a Stanley Cup series.
Carter Verhaeghe #23 of the Florida Panthers is congratulated by his teammates after scoring the game-winning goal against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 3 of the 2023 NHL Stanley Cup Final.
Carter Verhaeghe #23 of the Florida Panthers is congratulated by his teammates after scoring the game-winning goal against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 3 of the 2023 NHL Stanley Cup Final. Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
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Trailing 2-1 against the Vegas Golden Knights with less than three minutes left in the third period, the Florida Panthers found themselves on the brink of a 3-0 series deficit in the Stanley Cup Final. Fans at FLA Live Arena in Sunrise were wondering whether the Panthers' storybook playoff run was fizzing out and whether the team had run out of fuel to pull off another miracle.

Then, the Panthers pounced.

Matthew Tkachuk came through in the clutch and scored a crucial goal to tie the game in the closing moments of regulation. In overtime, Carter Verhaeghe unleashed a powerful wrist shot from the slot that soared high into the back of the net, giving the Panthers a 3-2 victory on Thursday night.
The thrilling comeback gave the Florida Panthers their first win in a Stanley Cup Final and injected the team with some much-needed momentum heading into a critical Game 4 on Saturday night, June 10, at FLA Live arena.

Cardiac Cats

Seizing a victory from the clutches of a supposedly stronger opponent is a familiar occurrence for a team that has consistently been underestimated and written off throughout the postseason. The Panthers snuck into the playoffs as the eight-seed by a whisker and haven't looked back since.

"We're the Cats,'' said overtime hero Verhaeghe after his fourth career playoff overtime goal. "We have whatever lives we have, but it's awesome. It shows how great our team is and the guys on our team have no quit in them.''
The Panthers' postseason savior Tkachuk, who has scored 11 goals in these playoffs, including three overtime game-winners of his own, put the Panthers' never-say-die mindset a bit more bluntly, telling media after the game the team isn't concerned with the naysayers. One way or another, Florida has, and will, get the job done, he said.

"We don't know how we're going to get there,'' said Tkachuk, "But we're going to do everything we can to get there.''

Panthers' Premature "Pepas"

Nothing at the moment indicates a South Florida team is on the cusp of victory more than the sweet, sweet melody of Farruko's "Pepas" soothing fans' ears.

The Miami Heat have made the anthem popular, playing it late in games when the team is on solid ground and victory is well within sight. The Panthers, possibly unsure how the "Pepas" works, did it all backward on Thursday night, playing the song before their overtime-winning goal.

Did they know something? Maybe. Should they do that again? Probably not. There are rules we all live by in society, Panthers.

Premature "Pepas." It works every time, 50 percent of the time.

What's Next: Game 4, FLA Live Arena, Saturday 8:00 p.m.

Folks — we have a series. Put those brooms away and stop with your moral victories. The Florida Panthers are three periods away from tying up the Stanley Cup Final and making it a best-of-three contest for the big silver trophy.

Though they may be bruised and down a game, the Panthers are closer than they've ever been to winning it all and judging by their tenacity last night, they can taste victory no matter how far away it seems.
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