Florida Panthers pull away in third period to defeat Edmonton Oilers, take commanding 2-0 lead in Stanley Cup Final

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Panthers players and fans celebrate during game two.


Evan Rodrigues scored twice in the third period and the Florida Panthers scored four unanswered goals to defeat the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 in the NHL Stanley Cup Final on Monday to take a 2-2 lead. 0 at Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise, Florida.

“It is special. I’m trying to accept it,” Rodrigues said after the match. “I try to stay in the present moment. These are two big wins for our team, and I think we’ve already turned the page and are getting ready for Game 3.”

The Oilers got on the board first, on their first shot attempt, midway through the first period. Oilers superstar Connor McDavid made a timely pass to Mattias Ekholm, who raced past defenders and buried a five-hole wrist shot over Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovksy for the goal.

In the first game of the series, the Oilers failed to score a goal despite dominating the Panthers 32-18 in terms of shots. On Monday, the roles were reversed somewhat, with the Panthers outshooting the Oilers, 22-7 over the first two periods.

With shot attempt after shot attempt, the Panthers struggled to get past Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner. Niko Mikkola, however, found his moment of glory in the second period when he fired a one-timer off Skinner’s glove side to tie the score 1-1. The Panthers’ struggles finding the back of the net disappeared from that point on.

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The Panthers celebrate after Mikkola’s goal.

Rodrigues gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead just over three minutes into the third period, taking advantage of a costly Evan Bouchard turnover and a shot that deflected off Ekholm and went to the bottom of the nets.

Rodrigues scored a power play goal with 7:31 remaining in the third period, for his second of the game and third of the series, to extend the Panthers’ lead to 3-1. The power play goal ended the Oilers’ streak of 34 consecutive shots on goal.

“I think our mentality changed in the third, where we stopped treating it like a power play and started treating it like a 5-on-5. They come with a lot of pressure and if we try to make a nice play, it will never work,” Rodrigues said of the power play goal.

With his two goals, Rodrigues became the first player in Panthers franchise history to have a multi-goal game in the Stanley Cup Final.

Aaron Ekblad added a fourth for the Panthers, scoring an empty-net goal to close out the victory.

The Panthers lost captain Aleksander Barkov midway through the third period after taking a hit to the head from Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl. He would leave the game and not return. Draisaitl received a minor penalty for roughing.

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Vincent Desharnais of the Edmonton Oilers controls the puck against Sam Bennett of the Panthers.

After being shut out in the series opener, the Oilers failed to do much offensively.

Their seven shot attempts in the first two periods tied the record for fewest shot attempts in Stanley Cup Final history. Edmonton – which led the league in shots on goal during the regular season – finished with 19 attempts, with Bobrovsky making 18 saves.

“We think we came in here and played enough to get a split,” Edmonton coach Kris Knoblauch said after the game. “That doesn’t always happen. We just have to take it one game at a time.

“I don’t see any reason to panic or do anything drastic… We just have to win the next game.”

Starting the series with a 1-8 record in the Stanley Cup Final, the Panthers will travel to Edmonton with a 2-0 series lead for Game 3 on Thursday night.

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