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Florida Panthers' 30-year wait over! Cats make history, win Stanley Cup

Paul Maurice on winning the Stanley Cup
Paul Maurice on winning the Stanley Cup 02:17

The Florida Panthers made history Monday night in front of more than 19,000 fans at Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise, Florida, beating the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 to win their first Stanley Cup.

As expected, Game 7 was a hard-fought contest with both teams going toe to toe throughout the game.

Panthers' Sam Reinhart and Carter Verhaeghe scored goals, Sergei Bobrovsky made 23 saves.

APTOPIX Stanley Cup Oilers Panthers Hockey
Florida Panthers head coach Paul Maurice, center left, hugs right wing Vladimir Tarasenko (10) at the end of Game 7 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final against the Edmonton Oilers, Monday, June 24, 2024, in Sunrise, Fla. Wilfredo Lee / AP

This time, they were on the right side of history — after avoiding what would have been a historic collapse. The Panthers won the first three games of the series, then lost the next three and needed a win on Monday to avoid joining the 1942 Detroit Red Wings as the only teams to lose the final after taking a 3-0 lead in the title round.  

It wasn't easy. Not even close. But it's done. It took until the very end for the Panthers to deny Connor McDavid his first title, and Edmonton what would have been its first Cup since 2006.  

CBS News Miami cameras caught images of fans at watch parties throughout South Florida cheering and screaming for every goal scored.

South Floridians celebrate historic win 01:37

This year marked the Panthers' third time playing for the Stanley Cup. In 2023, the Cats fell to the Golden Knights and in 1996, the Year of the Rat, to the Avalanche.

Panthers fans had to wait three long decades to reach this moment. It took 30 seasons, 457 different players, 18 different coaches, about two decades of irrelevance wedged in there along the way, rumors of contraction, rumors of relocation, and who knows how many bad nights to get to this moment.

The Cats and their fans suffered in this series, but in the end, they won the Cup through sheer effort in their building.

Mattias Janmark had the goal for Edmonton and Stuart Skinner stopped 19 shots for the Oilers. The Oilers also couldn't snap Canada's title drought; it's been 1993 and counting since a team based in Canada won the Cup.

Montreal was the last to do so, 30 seasons ago. Since then, there have been seven attempts by teams from Canadian-based cities — Vancouver in 1994 and 2011, Calgary in 2004, the Oilers in 2006, Ottawa in 2007 and the Canadiens in 2021 — to win titles, and all were in vain.

South Florida Panthers fans celebrate Stanley Cup win! 02:44

South Florida now has one of everything when it comes to titles from the four major pro sports leagues in the U.S. The Miami Dolphins were champions twice, the then-Florida Marlins were champions twice, the Miami Heat have three titles and now the Panthers have joined the party.  

Welcome, Stanley. The Panthers have been waiting. Maurice hoisted the Cup by the bench, closed his eyes tight to control the emotion and let out a yell. General manager Bill Zito didn't bother even trying to not let the yell out. And in the stands, Matthew Tkachuk's family — his father, Keith, never won a Cup — reveled in the moment, knowing their surname will soon be on Lord Stanley.

"This is for them," Tkachuk said.

Bobrovsky was as cool as could be, even in the biggest moments. Oilers defenseman Evan Bouchard had a good look from the right circle with about 14 seconds left in the second period; Bobrovsky blocked the shot, and the puck bounced off him and into the air.

No problem. Bobrovsky took his stick and batted the puck away again, more like he was playing morning pickleball at a park than in the biggest game of his life — literally, the last line of defense against the Oilers, and against a piece of history that the Panthers desperately fought to avoid.

Florida was an NHL-best 44-0-3 entering Monday when leading after two periods this season. An NHL-best 85-2-6 in that situation in the two seasons under coach Maurice, too.

They slammed the door, one last time. And the Cup was their reward.

"This is the best moment of my life so far," veteran Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad said. "Nothing tops it."

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