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The Panthers are ready to fight back in Stanley Cup Final by leaning on lessons from past

The Florida Panthers have faced long odds, huge deficits, last-minute eliminations and multiple overtime runs into the early hours of the morning.

But they have never faced a climb like this one.

panthers Lost 0-2 to the Las Vegas Golden Knights In the 2023 Stanley Cup finals, they suffered their first 2-0 loss in the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs and need to fight back quickly.

“We could be better, definitely,” said All-Star center Alexander Barkov.

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For the first time in the Stanley Cup playoffs, Florida traveled two games to open the series, but failed to steal home ice advantage from higher-seeded opponents. Despite being the lowest-seeded team on the field in the postseason, the Panthers were able to win at least one in every other round, betting their right to relative parity with their opponents. .

They did it in the first round against the Bruins, and are confident they can play the Presidents Trophy winner evenly throughout the first round, even if they end up in a similar two-game losing streak in Florida. gave hole.

Of course, the Panthers fought back to win three straight elimination games, pulling off one of the biggest upsets in NHL history. The triumph was the first of a staggering 11-of-12 win streak for Florida, and the Panthers reached the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1996. These wins also give Florida confidence that they can keep up with the Golden Knights despite their losing streak. – Turned the game around with a total of 8 goals in Las Vegas over the weekend.

Any reversal would have to start with Game 3 at Sunrise’s FLA Live Arena at 8 p.m. Thursday, or the Panthers would face an almost insurmountable disadvantage. In NHL history, after losing his first three games, he is one of only four teams to have managed to win a best-of-seven series, of which the comeback came in the cup final. Only one team. It dates back to 1942.

“We were down 1-3, but we still had some good moments in the game, so we took the good stuff out of it and tried to do it, we tried to repeat it for 60 minutes and we did it three times. I did it in a row,” Barkov said. “Here, it doesn’t change. We’re going to do what we do best for 60 minutes.”

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Florida will basically try to forgo Game 2. The Panthers trailed by just 7:05 and trailed by four points in the first 28 minutes. They were never able to compete with the Golden Knights, and after giving them multiple opportunities to move to Las Vegas, they benched star goaltender Sergei Bobrovski in the second period.

Instead, the focus will be on Game 1, tied at the start of the third period, before the Golden Knights scored three goals to win in Las Vegas. Florida did a better job of containing the Golden Knights’ rush at the time, and might have won if not for Las Vegas goaltender Addin Hill’s excellent performance.

“The first game was very evenly matched in terms of what we got out of the rush and what we got out of the rush,” coach Paul Morris said Tuesday. “Obviously they got on us last night from the rush and by the time they crossed the line we were on the back foot so it was harder to contain those plays by crushing them in the ‘D’ zone. Please be sure to focus for us.”

The biggest modifications need to be made on the defensive side.

The Panthers held the two Stanley Cup contenders to just 16 goals in nine games, beating the Maple Leafs and Hurricanes in the final two rounds. In Game 2 of the Finals alone, Florida conceded seven more points than in the entire Eastern Conference Finals.

It starts with keeping the rush down, which also means playing smart with zone entries so that one defenseman isn’t overwhelmed by the Golden Knights’ counterattack. However, this also includes a better play over Bobrovsky.

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The Panthers’ blocked shots per game jumped from 13.0 in the regular season to 17.4 in the first three rounds of the playoffs before dropping to 11 in the first two games of the Finals. Instead, Las Vegas scored multiple goals on Bobrovski when the goalie’s view was blocked by a teammate.

“If we’re going to go there, we have to stop them,” Maurice said. “You have to be in front of those shots, so we’re working on it. We’re trying. Three inches.”

Florida had other problems at T-Mobile Arena – a 6-0 powerplay, 130 minutes in penalty time, Barkov and fellow stars Matthew Tkachuk, Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Mong. They had just one point from the tour in total – but they still had their problems. The Panthers showed no real frustration at practice Wednesday in South Florida.

The Panthers have continued the same approach throughout the postseason. They say clichés, but this postseason they found that clichés are often true.

“We’re just trying to win the game,” said defenseman Marc Stahl. “We have approached every game in the playoffs the same way. I love our team and I love their resilience, I’m going to give it my all tomorrow and play my best game and go from there.”

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