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OPINION: Stanley Cup Final: Florida Panthers vs. Edmonton Oilers

Tribune News Service
Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov lifts the Stanley Cup alongside teammates as fans cheers during the Florida Panthers victory parade before the Stanley Cup victory parade at Fort Lauderdale Beach on Tuesday, June 30, 2024.

The Florida Panthers defeated the Edmonton Oilers in seven games to be crowned Stanley Cup champions for the first time in franchise history.

The Panthers arrived at the finals ready to play, winning their first two games of the series by an average of three goals. Game 3 was a different story with both teams in a shootout, but Florida ended up pulling out a 4–3 victory.

The Oilers had dug themselves a grave that not many have risen from. In Stanley Cup Playoffs history, there have been 211 teams that have faced a 3–0 deficit; only four of those teams have come back to win the series. That is a whopping 2%, so for Edmonton to survive this disappointment of a season, they would have to kick it into a different gear.

The Oilers came out Game 4 and refused to get swept in the finals. Edmonton came out with some firepower and demolished the Panthers 8–1. Oilers star Connor McDavid scored one goal and added three assists for the game.

Staying on the same path from Game 4, the Oilers struck first and built on their advantage by obtaining a 3–0 lead during the second period. The Panthers finally decided to join the scoring table and put in two goals before the second period could end and then pulled another one back, making the score 4–3 in the third period. But McDavid was certain to not let his team crumble and scored the game sealing goal with just 19 seconds left in the game.

Game 6 was a different story with the Oilers putting their foot down and winning 5–1 to tie the series up at 3–3.

Now the pressure was all on the Panthers. Even after their 3–0 lead, their coasting may have cost them the series. Momentum was now on Edmonton’s side going into Game 7; Florida would have to dig deep and find that passion they had during the first three games.

Game 7 — the game to define the winner of the 2024 Stanley Cup Finals. Taking place in Florida, the Panthers used that home cooking to their advantage and took a 1–0 lead. Edmonton then answered back with a goal just two minutes later. Both teams displayed immense effort, but Florida wanted it more. Sam Reinhart scored the final’s winning goal in the second period and then showed impressive defense the rest of the game.

Although Edmonton couldn’t finish the job, the Oilers star player Connor McDavid won the Conn Smythe award, which is awarded to the most valuable player in the playoffs. The award has only been given to a losing team just six times in the history of the sport.

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Brayson Brown, Sports Reporter

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