The Florida Panthers played their way back into the SCF after a thrilling 3-2 overtime win against the Vegas Golden Knights as forward Carter Verhaeghe scored the overtime winner. Game 4 will be a second game at the FLA Live Arena on Saturday night. Will the Panthers be able to continue their momentum and tie the series at 2? Or will Vegas come out with a 3-1 series lead?
Florida Panthers look to take two at home
Verhaeghe a critical part in Florida’s success
Not only has Verhaeghe scored important goals, he has shown great leadership on the ice. He leads by example, is a good two-way player, and shows up big when it counts. Verhaeghe’s play has been beneficial throughout the playoff, becoming a player that the Panthers can count on down the stretch. Verhaeghe is leading the NHL in game-winning goals with seven and overtime goals with four in the past two seasons in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This season, he has seven goals and 10 assists for 17 points, a +10 rating, a 13.5 shooting percentage, 30 hits, and seven blocks in 19 games. Yes, teammate Matthew Tkachuk gets most of the love but Verhaeghe should get recognition as he has been vital to the teams success also.
Vegas needs to move on from game 3
The Golden Knights had an opportunity to put a stranglehold on the series, possibly going up 3-1 in the series. That was put on hold for now. Vegas played a solid overall game but couldn’t pull it out in the end. It was not for lack of trying as they hit numerous posts in the third period. As for game 4, Vegas does not change a thing. They need to move on from game 3 and have a short memory. The question is can they? Will that loss come with them into game 4 and let it affect their game play?
How does Vegas move on from game 3?
The Golden Knights need to come out flying in game 4 and match the intensity of the Panthers. Capitalize on their chances in close do not let Florida get any kind of momentum going. Shutting down the Florida offense is not easy but it could help by meeting them at the blue line and standing them up to slow them down. Florida is built on speed, toughness, and their transition game so if Vegas can affect that at all it could determine the outcome of game 4 and going forward.
Can Florida build on momentum?
Florida had an extra gear in front of the home crowd on Thursday night, which resulted in the Panthers getting a 3-2 overtime win. Can the Florida Panthers keep that same fire going on Saturday night as they look to even the series with the Golden Knights? Their first home playoff win in almost 30 years did not disappoint as they played their best game of the series so far. They need to build off of that and get the crowd going early. Maybe head coach Paul Maurice starts the Ryan Lomberg line to set the tone early, hitting everything on the ice with a Florida sweater on. The Panthers are a much better team when they play a physical style, of course within the rules.
Does game 4 put more pressure on Vegas or Florida?
Both teams are looking for any advantage to win a game from here on out. Both teams have had different paths to the SCF. Both teams have had success this post season. However, when it comes down to it, which team has more pressure on them at this point? To me, it is Florida. The team that made it this far has had one of the hardest paths to the SCF of anyone in recent history. They took out the best team in NHL history during the regular season. Then they took out one of the better offensive teams in the league. The Panthers then took out a team that had one of the more solid rosters from top to bottom. Now they face Vegas. If they do not survive this round then all of their accomplishments in this playoffs may be looked past.
Projected lineups for the Florida Panthers and Vegas Golden Knights
Carter Verhaeghe- Aleksander Barkov- Anthony Duclair
Nick Cousins- Sam Bennett- Matthew Tkachuk
Ryan Lomberg- Anton Lundell- Sam Reinhart
Zac Dalpe- Eric Staal- Colin White
Gustav Forsling- Aaron Ekblad
Marc Staal- Brandon Montour
Josh Mahura- Radko Gudas
Sergei Bobrovsky- Alex Lyon
Injuries: Eetu Luostarinen (undisclosed), Patric Hornqvist (concussion)
Scratched: Givani Smith, Mike Benning, Casey Firzgerald, Evan Fitzpatrick, Lucas Carlsson, Mack Guzda, Matt Kierstad, Grigori Denisenko, Aleksi Heponiemi, Mackie Samoskevich, Connor Bunnaman, Patrick Giles, John Ludvig, Santtu Kinnunen, Calle Sjalin
Vegas Golden Knights
Ivan Barbashev- Jack Eichel- Jonathan Marchessault
Reilly Smith- William Karlsson- Michael Amadio
Brett Howden- Chandler Stephenson- Mark Stone
William Carrier- Nicolas Roy- Keegan Kolesar
Alec Martinez- Alex Pietrangelo
Brayden McNabb- Shea Theodore
Nicolas Hague- Zach Whitecloud
Adin Hill-Jonathan Quick
Injuries: Laurent Brossoit (lower-body), Logan Thompson (undisclosed)
Scratched: Teddy Blueger, Paul Cotter, Ben Hutton, Phil Kessel, Kaeden Korczak, Brayden Pachal, Jiri Patera.
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