Panthers vs. Oilers Game 7 highlights: Florida wins first Stanley Cup title


The Florida Panthers are first-time Stanley Cup champions, stepping up in Game 7 and re-establishing their style of play to avoid a historic collapse.

The Panthers defeated the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 on Monday, ending a three-game losing streak after they had won the first three games of the championship round.

They played a physical game, showed strong defense and got timely saves from Sergei Bobrovsky, echoing how they looked early in the series.

"It was perfect Florida Panthers fashion. Nothing’s easy," Panthers coach Paul Maurice, who improved to 5-0 in Game 7s, told ABC. "We needed to lose three in the final to learn how to win four."

Bobrovsky finished with 23 saves, allowing only a breakaway goal to Mattias Janmark, to improve to 16-8, but Oilers star Connor McDavid (league-best 42 points) won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

Florida Panthers forward Aleksander Barkov (16) hoists the Stanley Cup after defeating the Edmonton Oilers.
Florida Panthers forward Aleksander Barkov (16) hoists the Stanley Cup after defeating the Edmonton Oilers.

Carter Verhaeghe and Sam Reinhart scored to end personal slumps as the Panthers prevailed in their third trip to the final and second trip in two years.

The Oilers fell short in the bid to become the second NHL team – following the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs – to overcome a 3-0 series deficit in the Stanley Cup Final. The Panthers matched the 1945 Maple Leafs in being able to win Game 7 after blowing a 3-0 lead.

Canada's Stanley Cup drought extends to 31 years.

A closer look at Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final:

How the Florida Panthers won the Stanley Cup

It began in the summer of 2023 after the Presidents' Trophy-winning Panthers were ousted in the second round. General manager Bill Zito decided the team needed to be better defensively and more physical.

He made the blockbuster trade for feisty Matthew Tkachuk, sending away 115-point scorer Jonathan Huberdeau and top defenseman MacKenzie Weegar. He bought in coach Paul Maurice, who had stepped away from coaching with the Winnipeg Jets in 2021-22.

The Panthers scraped to make the playoffs last year and pulled off three consecutive upsets to reach the final before the banged-up team lost to the Vegas Golden Knights.

This year, they added to that core and won the Atlantic Division. Their ability to shut down opponents' stars helped them get past the Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins and New York Rangers before beating the Oilers in seven games.

Panthers coach Paul Maurice wins first Stanley Cup title

Before Monday, he had the most NHL regular-season wins (869) without a championship. He won in his third trip to the final.

"This is brilliant," he told Sportsnet. "I never hugged so many sweaty men in my entire life … It's not what I thought it would be. It's so much better. It's the hugs, man. I saw (forward) Sam Bennett smile today. First time in two years."

Lindy Ruff (864), recently rehired by the Buffalo Sabres, now holds the distinction of most wins without a championship.

Aleksander Barkov lifts Stanley Cup

He's the first Finnish-born captain to win the Stanley Cup. He skates around and hands the Cup to Sergei Bobrovsky, who was crucial to the Panthers' last two playoff runs.

"He deserves it," Barkov told ABC. "He's been in the league a long time and being a leader, the best player on the team a long time."

Kyle Okposo, who came over in a trade, is third to lift the Cup.

Connor McDavid wins Conn Smythe

He finished the playoffs with 42 points, fourth best all-time. He also set a playoff record with 34 assists.

He's the first player from the losing team to win the trophy since the Anaheim Ducks' Jean-Sebastien Giguere in 2003 and the only forward since the Philadelphia Flyers' Reggie Leach in 1976.

He didn't come out to accept the trophy from commissioner Gary Bettman.

"It's obviously, I guess, an honor with the names on that trophy, but yeah," he told reporters after the game.

McDavid said the loss "sucks."

"We were an inch away from going ahead 2-1 right before they go ahead 2-1," he said. "You know, it's tough. They do a good job of shutting things down. We had our looks. We just didn't find it."

Why do Florida Panthers fans throw plastic rats?

It comes from the 1995-96 season when Florida’s Scott Mellanby killed a rat in the old Miami Arena. He scored two goals that night, which a teammate called a “rat trick.” The Panthers went to the Stanley Cup Final that season, and fans started throwing plastic rats on the ice after goals. The NHL changed rules to make throwing items on the ice after a goal subject to a delay of game penalty.

Game 7 highlights

Game 7 recap

Panthers 2, Oilers 1: End of game

It's over. The Panthers and Sergei Bobrovsky survive an Oilers surge in the third period for a Game 7 victory.

Stuart Skinner out

Edmonton gets an extra attacker.

1:35 left

Edmonton takes a timeout.

Sergei Bobrovsky scrambling

He's on his back and loses his stick but Oilers can't capitalize.

Six minutes left

Edmonton's Leon Draisaitl still doesn't have a shot on goal.

Big saves by Sergei Bobrovsky

He stops a one-timer from Evan Bouchard then he and his defense work to stop Connor McDavid in close. Edmonton outshooting Florida 7-2 in the period.

Ten minutes to go

Not a lot of shots so far in this period. 2-1 Panthers.

Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl together

Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch loads up his top line.

Panthers go on power play

Evan Bouchard high sticks Eetu Luostarinen. Florida is 1-for-20 in the final but did score right after its first opportunity expired. Stuart Skinner stops Sam Bennett in close and the kill is successful.

Third period underway

Florida needs 20 minutes for its first Stanley Cup title.

Panthers 2, Oilers 1: End of second period

More good news for the Panthers as Sam Reinhart scores. The 57-goal scorer had just one goal previously in the series. Edmonton gets some prolonged time in the offensive zone on a couple occasions, but Sergei Bobrovsky makes the saves. He's looking more confident. Hits are 25-13 Florida and shots are 17-15 Panthers.

Panthers 2, Oilers 1: Sam Reinhart scores

Dmitry Kulikov makes a great defensive play and Sam Reinhart gets the puck up ice. He looks pass, waits for a screen to develop and rips a shot past Stuart Skinner at 15:11. He, too, had been slumping recently. It's his 10th goal of the playoffs. Kulikov and Carter Verhaeghe get assists.

Oilers look dangerous

The Oilers make a couple takeaways to keep the puck in the zone for a long time and cycle the puck. Sergei Bobrovsky gloves a shot from Mattias Ekholm and holds on.

Oilers can't capitalize on chance

Florida penalty killer Kevin Stenlund loses his stick and the Oilers keep the puck in the zone but can't convert before play stops. Florida kills the rest of the penalty with Sergei Bobrovsky stopping Evan Bouchard as time expires.

Oilers go on power play

Weird penalty. Matthew Tkachuk loses his balance and slides, upending Evan Bouchard. He's called for tripping.

Connor McDavid gets first shot

He had none on goal for the last four periods. Sergei Bobrovsky makes the save.

Second period underway

Score tied 1-1. The Panthers have to like the way they played.

Panthers 1, Oilers 1: End of first period

The Panthers came out playing their brand of hockey, outhitting Edmonton 18-7. Florida's Carter Verhaeghe scores for the first time since Game 1 but Edmonton's Mattias Janmark counters with a breakaway goal a little more than two minutes later. Florida was pressing toward the end of the period. Shots on goal are 8-6 Florida. No shots for Connor McDavid.

Matthew Tkachuk shoots wide

Florida's Matthew Tkachuk gets the puck down low, but shoots wide as he tries to lift a shot past Stuart Skinner.

Panthers come out hitting

They lead in hits 17-7 with five minutes in the first period.

Oilers' Evan Bouchard hits the post

Still 1-1. His shot was clocked at 90 mph.

Panthers 1, Oilers 1: Mattias Janmark scores

Edmonton's Mattias Janmark takes a pass from Cody Ceci and scores on a breakaway at 6:44. He shoots high, where Sergei Bobrovsky is considered more vulnerable. The Oilers' third line now has five goals in four games. Another odd-man rush hurts the Panthers.

Panthers 1, Oilers 0: Carter Verhaeghe scores

The Panthers don't get much going on the power play, but right after, Evan Rodrigues puts a shot near the net and Carter Verhaeghe tips it in at 4:27. That's key because he had been slumping and the team that scores first has won the last eight Stanley Cup Final Game 7s.

Panthers go on power play

Edmonton's Warren Foegele high sticks Brandon Montour. The Panthers power play is 1-for-19 in this series.

Game 7 underway

Winner take all. First goal will be important.

Starting lineup analysis

Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch has started his third line the previous three games and it has produced four goals. Paul Maurice responds with his third line. That gives him the option of putting Aleksander Barkov out against Connor McDavid.

Florida Panthers starting lineup

F Anton Lundell

F Eetu Luostarinen

F Vladimir Tarasenko

D Dmitry Kulikov

D Oliver Ekman-Larsson

G Sergei Bobrovsky

Edmonton Oilers starting lineup

F Mattias Janmark

F Connor Brown

F Adam Henrique

D Evan Bouchard

D Mattias Ekholm

G Stuart Skinner

What time is Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final?

Game 7 is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on Monday at Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise, Florida.

How to watch Stanley Cup Final Game 7

Game 7 will be shown nationally on ABC in the United States. It will be shown on Sportsnet and CBC in Canada.

How to live stream Stanley Cup Final Game 7

Game 7 can be streamed on ESPN+ and Fubo.

Hockey trade: Bruins, Senators swap goalies

Just before the opening faceoff, the Bruins and Ottawa announce a swap of goalie, with Linus Ullmark going to Ottawa for Joonas Korpisalo, a forward and a first-round pick. Details here

Stanley Cup Final Game 7 on-ice officials

Referees: Steve Kozari, Dan O'Rourke

Linespersons: Jonny Murray, Matt MacPherson

Stanley Cup Final Game 7 predictions

Mike Brehm, USA TODAY: 4-2 Oilers

Jace Evans, USA TODAY: 3-1 Oilers

Stanley Cup Final Game 7 keys to victory

Panthers: Get a better start, especially with the home crowd behind them. They have fallen behind at least 2-0 in each of the last three games. In Game 6, they had only two shots on goal in the first period.

Oilers: More of the same. Quick, up-ice passes to counteract the Panthers' forecheck. Lots of speed on the rush. Continue their special teams dominance.

Read more on keys to victory and predictions

Stanley Cup Final Game 7 goaltending matchup

Panthers' Sergei Bobrovsky (15-8, 2.38 goals-against average, .903 save percentage) vs. Oilers' Stuart Skinner (14-8, 2.46, .901)

Stanley Cup Final Game 7 lineup changes

Panthers forward Kyle Okposo is coming in for Nick Cousins. Vladimir Tarasenko is moving up to the top power-play unit, which is 1-for-19 in the final. Tarasenko previously played in a Stanley Cup Final Game 7 with the 2019 Blues.

Connor McDavid approaching records

Connor McDavid has 11 points in the final, leaving him two points behind Wayne Gretzky’s 1988 record. He already has passed Gretzky’s record for assists in a postseason with 34. McDavid's 42 playoff points place him fourth all-time behind Gretzky (47, 1985), Mario Lemieux (44, 1991) and Gretzky (43, 1988).

There is thought that McDavid could win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP regardless of who wins Game 7.

What are home teams' records in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final?

Home teams are 12-5, but the road team has won the last three: 2019 Blues, 2011 Bruins and 2009 Penguins.

Stanley Cup Final Game 7 record when scoring first

The team scoring first is 12-5 and has won the last eight times. The last team to win after giving up the first goal in Game 7 was the 1987 Oilers against the Flyers.

Which NHL teams forced Game 7 after losing the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final?

The 2024 Oilers are the third NHL team. The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs did it against the Detroit Red Wings and won Game 7. The 1945 Red Wings did it against the Maple Leafs and lost Game 7.

Stanley Cup Final Game 7 betting odds

Game 7 odds, via BetMGM:

Moneyline: Panthers -105; Oilers -115

Spread: Panthers -1.5 (+245); Oilers +1.5 (+245)

Over/under: 5.5 (over +130; under -150)

How many Stanley Cup titles have the Panthers won heading into Game 7?

None. They reached the final previously in 1996 and 2023.

How many Stanley Cup titles have the Oilers won heading into Game 7?

Five. They won in 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988 and 1990. They also went to the final in 1983 and 2006.

Florida Panthers' record in potential clinching, elimination games this postseason

They are 3-5 with a chance to clinch, losing their first opportunity against the Lightning and Bruins and their first three chances against the Oilers. They won their second chance against the Lightning and Bruins and beat the Rangers on their first opportunity. This is their first potential elimination game of the 2024 playoffs, but they went 3-1 in 2023.

Edmonton Oilers' record in potential clinching, elimination games this postseason

They are 3-0 with a chance to clinch, beating the Kings, Canucks and Stars. They are 5-0 in elimination games, winning Games 6 and 7 against the Canucks in the second round and Games 4, 5 and 6 against the Panthers.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Stanley Cup Finals: Panthers win first title in Game 7 win vs. Oilers