Stanley Cup: Florida Panthers win first Final game in franchise history

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The Florida Panthers won the franchise’s first-ever Stanley Cup Final game, downing the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 in overtime to take Game 3 on Thursday.

In a dramatic comeback, Matthew Tkachuk leveled the score with time running out before Carter Verhaeghe scored an overtime winner to seal a historic day for the Panthers franchise.

The game got off to the best possible start for the Panthers in front of their home fans at FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, Florida.

Just over four minutes into the first period, Brandon Montour went top shelf on Knights goalie Adin Hill to get the scoring started early.

Panthers star Tkachuk then took a big hit by Vegas forward Keegan Kolesar. The 25-year-old headed to the locker room but was able to return in the second period.

Down 1-0 in the closing minutes of the first period, Knights captain Mark Stone scored on the power play to tie the game at one.

With five minutes to go in the second period, Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault ripped a one-timer past Panthers goalie and two-time Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky. The goal gave Marchessault his 13th of the playoffs, tying Edmonton Oilers star Leon Draisitl for the lead.

Florida pulled Bobrovsky with just over two minutes to play in the game and down one goal. Tkachuk then got the loose puck in front of the Vegas crease and found the back of the net to tie things up and send Game 3 to overtime.

The home crowd came alive as the Panthers found new life heading into the overtime period.

After killing off a power play to start overtime, Panthers’ Verhaeghe completed the comeback and scored the winner to cut the series deficit to 2-1 for Florida.

“I mean, they all counted us out before the Final even started,” a defiant Tkachuk said postgame, per ESPN. “We’re that type of team where we know what the end goal [is]. We don’t know how we’re going to get there, but we’re going to do everything we can to get there.”

The Panthers are now an incredible 7-0 in overtime in the playoffs this year.

Game 4 is scheduled for Saturday in Florida with the Panthers looking to tie the series at home.

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