Florida Panthers Sweep Carolina Hurricanes, Reach Stanley Cup Final
SUNRISE, Florida -- Matthew Tkachuk's third game-winning goal of this postseason came with just 4.9 seconds left and delivered the eighth-seeded Florida Panthers to their first Stanley Cup Final in 27 years.
Tkachuk's clutch score, which came on a Florida power play, was his second of the night.
NHL senior vice president Brian Jennings was the one tasked with presenting the Prince of Wales Trophy. Some teams touch it. Some don't. There was no hesitation on Tkachuk's part to touch it.
"We're not the type of team that's going to be superstitious," he said, referring to past tradition where players won't hoist any trophy until the Cup itself. "We earned that thing. We did it the hard way."
The Panthers gave themselves a chance to close out the Hurricanes after earning a 1-0 victory in Monday's Game 3, powered by a 32-save shutout from Sergei Bobrovsky. Florida's netminder was stellar again Wednesday with 36 saves. Frederik Andersen stopped 21 shots at the other end to give Carolina a chance at extending the series.
Carolina had a critical power-play opportunity midway through the third that turned up four shots on Bobrovsky but no goal. It wasn't until late in the third period, with just under 4 minutes to play, that Jesper Fast solved Bobrovsky again with a quick strike from in front to tie the score at 3.
A late tripping call on Carolina captain Jordan Staal gave Florida a power-play chance with 57 seconds remaining in regulation. Tkachuk beat Andersen with 4.9 seconds on the clock. Brind'Amour challenged the play over goaltender interference, but Tkachuk's goal stood to punch Florida's ticket to the Cup Final.