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History is on Panthers’ side with 2-0 Stanley Cup Final lead

USA TODAY
                                Florida Panthers celebrate their win against the Edmonton Oilers on Monday.
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USA TODAY

Florida Panthers celebrate their win against the Edmonton Oilers on Monday.

Even with a 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final, the Florida Panthers know the value of keeping with the one-game-at-a-time mentality that got them to this point as the series shifts to the road.

After winning the first two games of the best-of-7 series against the Edmonton Oilers 3-0 on Saturday and 4-1 on Monday, Game 3 is at 8 p.m. ET Thursday at Rogers Place.

“It’s important in the playoffs to just turn the page,” said Panthers forward Vladimir Tarasenko, one of two players on Florida’s roster to have won a Stanley Cup. “It’s going to be loud there, and we’ll be ready for it.”

The Panthers also have history on their side as they get within two games of hoisting the Cup for the first time in franchise history.

This is the fourth consecutive season that a team has taken a 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final. All three of the previous teams — the Vegas Golden Knights in 2023 (against Florida), Colorado Avalanche in 2022 (against the Tampa Bay Lightning) and Lightning in 2021 (against the Montreal Canadiens) — won the Cup.

But let’s go farther than that.

Only six times in NHL history — and only twice in 10 attempts since 2009 — has a team worked its way back from a 2-0 series deficit and won the Stanley Cup. The Boston Bruins overcame series deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 to beat the Vancouver Canucks in seven games in 2011. And the Pittsburgh Penguins overcame also rallied back from being down 2-0 and 3-2 to beat the Detroit Red Wings in seven games in 2009.

Before those two, the most recent instance of a team rallying back from a 2-0 deficit to win the Stanley Cup was the Canadiens in 1971.

Star Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk has a supporter who is also chasing his first title: the Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum. The two were classmates at Chaminade College Preparatory School in St. Louis, Mo.

“I’m a big Matthew fan,” Tatum said. “We went to school together. I watched him win [Monday]. I’m trying to learn and understand the rules and the game of hockey more and more. I got to watch the game and they won. I’m extremely happy for him and his family. Hopefully, they win it all.”

Tatum’s Celtics lead the Dallas Mavericks 2-0 in the NBA Finals.

The NHL’s Department of Player Safety on Tuesday announced only one fine from the Panthers-Oilers game on Monday: Oilers forward Sam Carrick was fined $2,213.54, the maximum allowable under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, for slashing Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov late in the third period.

There were no other supplemental punishments from the game, including nothing to Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl after his high hit that knocked Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov out of the game midway through the third period.

Television ratings have been up year over year for the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final.

Game 1 had a total of 7.1 million viewers across North America, which made it the most-watched Stanley Cup Final opener since 2019 and was a viewership increase of 43 percent from Game 1 of the the 2023 Stanley Cup Final between Florida and Las Vegas.

Game 2 drew an average audience of 6.8 million viewers in North America, a 61 percent increase from Game 2 last year.

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