Redemption: How a bitter loss in 2023 helped the Florida Panthers win the Stanley Cup in 2024

After losing to Vegas in five games last season, the Panthers retooled and refocused to earn the first Stanley Cup in franchise history 12 months later.
2024 Stanley Cup Final - Game Seven
2024 Stanley Cup Final - Game Seven / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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The Florida Panthers run to the Stanley Cup

With a division crown in their back pocket, the Panthers began the postseason with a Sunshine State battle against the Tampa Bay Lightning. After a pair of tight victories, the offenses exploded in the final three games of the series. The Bolts were able to avoid the sweep with a Game 4 win, but the Panthers ended the series with an emphatic 6-1 win in Game 5 to advance. Former Bolt Carter Verhaeghe finished with five goals and tied Matthew Tkachuk with nine points.

Next on their ledger was a rematch against the Boston Bruins in the second round. As the underdogs last season, the Panthers upset the Bruins in the first round, coming back from 3-1 down to win in overtime in Game 7. This time around, the Panthers were no longer the underdogs. The Bruins handed it to the Cats in Game 1, but Sergei Bobrovsky was lights out the rest of the way. The Vezina finalist allowed just eight goals in the final five games as the Panthers returned to the conference finals with a six-game victory.

In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Panthers met the President's Trophy-winning New York Rangers. After Sergei Bobrovsky shut out the Rangers 3-0 in Game 1, the Panthers found themselves behind in a series for the first time once the Rangers took Games 2 and 3 in overtime. A Sam Reinhart overtime winner in Game 4 helped to even the series before Bobrovsky outdueled Igor Shesterkin. Both goalies were phenomenal, but the Cats wouldn't be denied a return to the Stanley Cup Final, winning in six games.

This year's Stanley Cup Final has been touted as one of the best in recent memory. The Panthers were in clear control early in the series, jumping out to a 3-0 series lead behind more spectacular goaltending. An 8-1 win for the Oilers in Game 4 to keep the series alive almost led to one of the most unbelievable collapses in sports history. The Oilers worked their way back into the series and forced a Game 7, only for the Panthers to shut the door on the comeback by winning 2-1 on Monday night.

In just 12 months, the Panthers went from experiencing heartbreak to storming the ice to celebrate with the Stanley Cup. Though he didn't win the Conn Smythe, Sergei Bobrovsky was outstanding. Offseason addition Evan Rodrigues had a coming out party in the finals, notching a series-high four goals. Aleksander Barkov, this year's Selke winner, made sure Connor McDavid was an afterthought in Game 7. Paul Maurice finally got to experience life on top of the mountain. This was a deserving Panthers team who took lessons from their finals loss and turned it into an incredible moment.