Panthers win their 1st Stanley Cup, top Oilers in Game 7 to avoid historic collapse (2024)

There was no collapse. The Florida Panthers are Stanley Cup champions for the first time, and they took about the hardest path possible to the title.

Sam Reinhart and Carter Verhaeghe scored goals, Sergei Bobrovsky made 23 saves and the Panthers beat the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 on Monday night in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. It was the third title-round appearance in Florida's 30-year history; it was swept in 1996 by Colorado and routed 4-1 by Vegas last season.

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's not what I thought it would be,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said. “It's so much better.”

It wasn’t easy. Not even close. But it's done.

“It's heavy,” Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov said, after he took the celebratory first lap with the Cup.

But not too heavy. Barkov handed it to Bobrovsky and the celebration was on. 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 1990.

McDavid won the Conn Smythe as MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs. He didn't come out for the trophy. It's not the one he wanted, anyway. The Cup is what they play for, and it was Florida that hoisted it.

“It’s not a dream anymore. It’s not a dream. It’s reality,” said Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk, who got traded to Florida two summers ago with this as his goal. “I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it. ... I can’t believe how good these two years have been. So thankful for this group of guys. It’s the best place, best guys. It’s something really special here with what we have.”

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 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, Tkachuk's family — his father, Keith, never won a Cup — reveled in the moment, knowing their surname will soon be on Lord Stanley.

Panthers win their 1st Stanley Cup, top Oilers in Game 7 to avoid historic collapse (1)

JASON FRANSON/AP / The Canadian Press


The Canadian Press

“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 led this title series 3-0, then got outscored 18-5 in Games 4, 5 and 6 to waste three chances at winning the Cup. Edmonton was one win away from becoming the second team in NHL history to win the Cup after dropping the first three games; Toronto did it to Detroit in 1942, and no team has pulled off such a comeback since.

They brought in seven-time Grammy winner Alanis Morissette — she was born in Canada and became a dual U.S. citizen in 2005 — to sing the national anthems. Hardly anybody could hear her; the Oilers fans drowned her out for “O Canada,” the Panthers fans did the same for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” They had Panthers legend Roberto Luongo bang the ceremonial bass drum after that; he urged fans to “let’s go” with an extra word in there that needed to be bleeped a few times.

“I just can't believe we did it,” Barkov said.

The pregame was raucous. The stage was set.

And the teams came out absolutely ablaze. The Panthers got the first goal just 4:27 into the game when Verhaeghe waved his stick at the puck that was fired in from the left side by Evan Rodrigues and got just enough to redirect it past Skinner for a 1-0 lead — the first Florida lead since the end of Game 3.

They waited more than a week to be back on top. They stayed there for just over two minutes.

Janmark got behind the Florida defense and beat Bobrovsky over the right shoulder at 6:44, knotting things right back up and ensuring that this Game 7 of the final — like all 17 of the previous such games — wouldn’t end 1-0.

It stayed that way through wild ebbs and flows — the Oilers controlled long stretches, the Panthers would counter, back and forth — until Reinhart scored late in the second to put Florida up 2-1. It capped a crazy sequence, one where Florida defenseman Dmitry Kulikov wound up in the net to help prevent an Edmonton goal seconds before Reinhart beat Skinner. The goal was Reinhart’s 67th of the season, extending his Florida single-season record, and it was up to the Panthers to make it hold up.

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.”

Copyright 2024 NPR

Panthers win their 1st Stanley Cup, top Oilers in Game 7 to avoid historic collapse (2024)


Did the Florida Panthers ever win the Stanley Cup? ›

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.

Who owns Florida Panthers? ›

NBC Universal, Inc. Florida Panthers owner Vincent Viola speaks with NBC6 after the team won the 2024 Stanley Cup. On Sept. 27, 2013, the day Vincent Viola was introduced as the new owner of the Florida Panthers, he said his goal was to bring a Stanley Cup to South Florida.

Have the Oilers ever won a Stanley Cup? ›

I'm gonna get a heart attack right now just thinking about it," longtime fan Victor Fodor said. Fodor went to a couple of the playoff games at the Coliseum, the Oilers' old arena, the last time the Oilers won the Stanley Cup in 1990, beating the Boston Bruins.

Why is Edmonton called the Oilers? ›

The Edmonton Oilers are an ice hockey team in the National Hockey League (NHL). They joined the NHL in 1979, after seven years in the World Hockey Association. They were named the "Oilers" because Edmonton, Alberta is the center of Canada's petroleum industry.

Who had never won a Stanley Cup? ›

Check out the full list below.
  • Buffalo Sabres. Total NHL playoff appearances: 29.
  • Vancouver Canucks. Total NHL playoff appearances: 29.
  • San Jose Sharks. Total NHL playoff appearances: 21.
  • Arizona Coyotes. Total NHL playoff appearances: 20.
  • Ottawa Senators. ...
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20 hours ago

How many times have the Panthers been to the Stanley Cup finals? ›

Sam Reinhart and Carter Verhaeghe scored goals, Sergei Bobrovsky made 23 saves and the Panthers beat the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 on Monday night in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. It was the third title-round appearance in Florida's 30-year history; it was swept in 1996 by Colorado and routed 4-1 by Vegas last season.

Why is Florida called the Panthers? ›

The team is named for the Florida panther, an endangered species of large cat endemic to the nearby Everglades region. Once the logos and uniforms were unveiled on June 15, the team also announced its financial commitment to the panther preservation cause.

Who owns the NHL? ›

The Board of Governors is the ruling and governing body of the National Hockey League. In this context, each team is a member of the league, and each member appoints a Governor (usually the owner of the club), and two alternates to the Board. The current chairman of the Board is Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs.

Are there any true Florida Panthers left? ›

Hunting decimated the population badly, and it was one of the first species added to the U.S. endangered species list in 1973. The Florida panther's current status is listed as endangered. During the 1970s, only about 20-30 Florida panthers remained in the wild. Today, there are just over 200 left in the wild.

What are the rats for Florida Panthers? ›

Did you know that the tradition of tossing rats on the ice during Florida Panthers hockey matches goes way back to the 1995-1996 NHL season? It all began when Scott Mellanby, a forward, scored two goals in one game and, before the next match, killed a rat in the locker room with his stick.

How many years did Wayne Gretzky play with the Oilers? ›

Edmonton Oilers (1979–1988)

Who won most Stanley Cups? ›

Which team has hoisted the Stanley Cup the most times? That would be the Montreal Canadiens, with 24 titles. Next are the Toronto Maple Leafs, with 13 championships, followed by the Detroit Red Wings, the winners of 11 Stanley Cups.

Does Gretzky own the Oilers? ›

The Coyotes struggled during Gretzky's tenure, and he resigned as head coach in 2009, which was the same year in which he lost his ownership stake when the team filed for bankruptcy and was subsequently purchased by the NHL. In 2016 he returned to the Oilers franchise as a partner and vice chairman.

How many Stanley Cups did Gretzky win? ›

As of today, 24 seasons after retirement, he still holds or shares 57 NHL records. Winning four Stanley Cups (1984, 1985, 1987 ,1988), Gretzky set records in both regular season and post-season play, holding the record for most career regular season goals (894), assists (1,963), points (2,857) and hat-tricks (50).

Why didn't Houston keep the Oilers name? ›

Although Houstonians wanted to keep the Oilers, they were leery of investing more money on a stadium so soon after the Astrodome improvements. The city was also still struggling to recover from the oil collapse of the 1980s.

How many Stanley Cups have Florida teams won? ›

In Game 7 of the National Hockey League playoffs, the Florida Panthers beat the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 — securing the team's first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

Has the Panthers ever won a championship? ›

The Panthers won Games 1-3 by a combined 11-4 score, had a 3-0 lead, three chances until now to win the Stanley Cup for the first time in their history.

Has New Jersey ever won the Stanley Cup? ›

2002-03 New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils won their third Stanley Cup in nine seasons by defeating the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in Game 7 of the Final. The series marked the first time since 1965 that the home team won every game of the championship round.

How many Stanley Cups have the Blackhawks won? ›

Recent News. Chicago Blackhawks, American professional ice hockey team based in Chicago. The Blackhawks are part of the “Original Six,” the group of teams that made up the National Hockey League (NHL) from 1942 until the 1967 expansion. They have won six Stanley Cup titles.

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