Watch CBS News

Panthers head north, can come home with first Stanley Cup, CBS Miami's Steve Goldstein

Florida Panthers inspire Miami youth hockey team
Florida Panthers inspire Miami youth hockey team 02:30

SUNRISE - After taking care of business in the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final, the Florida Panthers are closer to their first championship than they've ever been. Leading Edmonton 2-0 in the series, the Panthers hit the road, 2,541 miles northwest to the province of Alberta, for Games 3 and 4. The Panthers had never won more than one game in a Cup final. Fourteen wins down, two wins to go to hoist the three-foot-tall, 37-pound silver trophy.

Don't let'em up
Teams with a 2-0 lead in the Cup final win more than 90 percent of the time. In 2009 and 2011, the Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins both came from behind to win the Cup in 7 games. The Panthers' task is simple. Win at least one game in Edmonton to give themselves three chances to close it out. The Oilers high high-powered offense is frustrated, they were held to one goal in the first two games. Add in a trio of dirty hits by the Oilers in Game 2 and the Panthers have a chance to put even more pressure on Edmonton.

Rodrigues rips
Evan Rodrigues had never played in a final. The first year Panther has moved around the lineup throughout the season. He's a solid player but not known for his goal scoring prowess. Championships in sports history are littered with players that step up big in the big moments unexpectedly. Enter Rodrigues. He scored three goals and three shots including the game-winner in Game 2 at Amerant Bank Arena.

Power down
Another playoff series, another opposing "unstoppable" power play is, well, being stopped. The Panthers shut down Tampa and New York's big power plays and now they're doing the same to Edmonton. Connor McDavid and the Oilers have the best playoff power play in the league. The Panthers have not talked enough about their outstanding penalty kill, it is seven for seven in the series. Perhaps the biggest key to the next two games is this matchup. The penalty killers have been aggressive, going to the puck and, when needed, goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has been perfect.

Hold tight early
Edmonton knows Game 3 is a virtual must win. At home, before what will be a wild crowd, expect the Oilers to come out flying to start the game. The Panthers are a great road team, winning 6 of 8 in Tampa, Boston, and New York. If they hold off the speedy Oiler offense early in the game the Panthers have the advantage the rest of the way.

Save best for last
Considering the playoff tested superstar-laden teams they have beaten so far it is remarkable how dominant the Panthers are in third periods. They are outscoring opponents 28-11 in the final period and play a lockdown defensive style that rarely allows even strength scoring chances. When the Panthers get the lead, they are nearly impossible to beat. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.