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Bobrovsky leads the way, Panthers look for 2-0 Cup Final lead: CBS Sports Miami's Steve Goldstein

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FORT LAUDERDALE — Prior to Saturday night's Stanley Cup Final opener against the Edmonton Oilers at Amerant Bank Arena, Florida Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky didn't have to carry the team.

Stanley Cup Oilers Panthers Hockey
Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, left, defends against a shot by Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) during the first period of Game 1 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals, Saturday, June 8, 2024, in Sunrise, Fla. Wilfredo Lee / AP

The support in front of him controlled most of the playoff games against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins and New York Rangers. But Connor McDavid and his Oilers threw 32 shots at Bobrovsky, including a few breakaways and high-danger chances. Bobrovsky stopped them all, sending the nearly 20,000 fans into a frenzy.

The Panthers feel good after winning Game 1 3-0 and knowing they have areas of their game that will need improvement. They showed some of that improvement in the third period, locking down Edmonton in typical Panther fashion in the final 20 minutes.

Game of Firsts

For the first time in franchise history, the Panthers have the lead in a Cup Final series. They recorded their first shutout and led by more than one goal for the first time as well.

Brick Wall Bob

Sergei Bobrovsky made NHL history by becoming the oldest goalie to record a Final shutout since 2011. It was the first Game 1 shutout in the Cup Final since 2011. That goalie was in the building Saturday night as well: Roberto Luongo.

Opportunity Knocks

The Panthers were at or near the top of the NHL all season in shots on goal and shot attempts. So, it was strange to see Edmonton control those departments through the first 40 minutes of the game.

The Panthers made the most of their chances though, converting on their first shot on goal on a 3-on-2 break. Alexander Barkov was masterful at setting up, who else, Carter Verhaeghe for the game's first goal and the game-winner.

A terrific hustle and skill play by Sam Bennett made it 2-0 as Evan Rodrigues beat Stuart Skinner from right in front. They didn't have their usual shot volume or scoring chances but the Panthers converted on the two they needed with their top two centers coming up big.

Mr. Playoff

Carter Verhaeghe continues his amazing playoff production. He scored his 25th postseason goal — a Panthers record.

A remarkable 10 of them have been game-winning goals by far the most in the league since 2022. Also remarkable: He has only two multi-goal games, the last coming two years ago. Verhaeghe plays his beat when the pace is frantic, the intensity is high and the money is on the line.

Looking for Two

The Panthers have a golden opportunity Monday night. Grabbing a 2-0 series lead would put the Edmonton Oilers backs against the wall early in the series.

The way the Panthers are playing, all things being equal, it's hard to imagine anybody beating this team four out of five and that is what the Oilers would need to do the Panthers win game two.

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