In Game 7, the Panthers defeat the Oilers to win their first Stanley Cup and avert a historic collapse.

No collapse took place. For the first time ever, the Florida Panthers are the Stanley Cup champions, and they achieved their victory via nearly the most difficult route.

In Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night, the Panthers defeated the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 thanks to goals from Sam Reinhart and Carter Verhaeghe, 23 saves from Sergei Bobrovsky. In its thirty-year history, Florida had made three appearances in the title round; it had been swept by Colorado in 1996 and humiliated 4-1 by Vegas in the previous season.

After averting what would have been a historic collapse, they were on the right side of history this time. The Panthers needed to win on Monday to avoid being one of the only teams, along with the 1942 Detroit Red Wings, to lose the championship round after building a 3-0 lead in the series. The Panthers had won the first three games of the series, but dropped the following three.

“It’s not what I anticipated,” Panthers head coach Paul Maurice remarked. “It is far superior.”

It was not simple. Not even near. However, it’s finished.

Aleksander Barkov, the captain of the Panthers, commented, “It’s heavy,” during his joyous first circuit around the Cup.

not overly weighty, but. After Barkov gave it to Bobrovsky, the festivities began. The Panthers had to wait until the very end to deny Edmonton its first Cup since 1990 and Connor McDavid his first championship.

Conn Smythe was awarded to McDavid as the Stanley Cup playoff MVP. He didn’t show up to claim the award. Anyhow, it’s not the one he desired. They compete for the Cup, which was lifted by Florida.

It’s no longer a dream. This isn’t a dream. Forward Matthew Tkachuk of the Panthers, who was traded to Florida two summers ago with this as his objective, stated, “It’s a reality. It’s unbelievable. It’s unbelievable to me. How wonderful these past two years have been is beyond words. I’m really grateful for these folks. Best dudes, this is the place to be. With everything we have, this place is truly unique.

Stuart Skinner stopped 19 shots for the Oilers, while Mattias Janmark scored the goal for Edmonton. The Oilers were also unable to end Canada’s championship drought; the last time a Canadian-based club won the Cup was in 1993.

Thirty seasons ago, Montreal was the last team to do it. Since then, seven teams from Canadian cities have attempted to win titles, all in vain: Vancouver in 1994 and 2011, Calgary in 2004, the Oilers in 2006, Ottawa in 2007, and the Canadiens in 2021.

In terms of titles from the four major professional sports leagues in the United States, South Florida currently has one of everything. The Miami Heat have won three titles, the Miami Dolphins have won two, the former Florida Marlins have won two, and now the Panthers have joined the celebration.

Stanley, welcome. Panthers fans have been holding out. Maurice yelled, clutching his eyes shut to contain his emotions as he raised the Cup near the bench. Bill Zito, the general manager, didn’t even try to hold back his yell. Tkachuk’s family, whose father Keith never won a Cup, celebrated the occasion in the spectators, knowing that their last name will soon be Lord Stanley.

“It’s for them,” Tkachuk declared.

Bobrovsky maintained his composure even during the most intense moments. With about 14 seconds remaining in the second period, Oilers defenceman Evan Bouchard had a decent look from the right circle; Bobrovsky blocked the shot, and the ball deflected off him and into the air.

Not an issue. Bobrovsky was virtually the last line of defense against the Oilers and against a piece of history that the Panthers fought frantically to avoid. He took his stick and swatted the puck away again, more like he was playing morning pickleball at a park than in the biggest game of his life.

After holding a 3-0 lead in the championship series, Florida lost three opportunities to capture the Cup after being outscored 18-5 in Games 4, 5, and 6. Edmonton had the potential to become only the second club in NHL history to win the Cup despite losing its opening three games; no team has managed a comeback quite like Toronto’s against Detroit in 1942.

To sing the national anthems, they invited seven-time Grammy winner Alanis Morissette, who was born in Canada and obtained dual citizenship with the United States in 2005. She was practically silent when the Oilers and Panthers fans muffled her voice during “O Canada” and “The Star-Spangled Banner,” respectively. After that, they had Roberto Luongo, a former player for the Panthers, pound the ceremonial bass drum while pleading with the audience to “let’s go” and adding a word that needed to be repeated a few times.

Barkov said, “I just can’t believe we did it.”

The warm-up was boisterous. The scene was prepared.

And the teams performed flawlessly. Just 4:27 into the game, Verhaeghe waved his stick in the direction of a puck that Evan Rodrigues had fired in from the left side. He managed to deflect enough of the puck past Skinner to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead, their first since the conclusion of Game 3.

It took them over a week to return to the top. They were there for a little more than two minutes.

At 6:44, Janmark snuck by the Florida defense and beat Bobrovsky over the right shoulder, tying the score and making sure that this Game 7 of the championship, unlike the 17 other ones, wouldn’t conclude 1-0.

That continued through erratic ups and downs in which the Oilers dominated extended periods of time while the Panthers countered, back and forth, until Reinhart’s goal late in the second to give Florida a 2-1 lead. It ended an absurd sequence in which Dmitry Kulikov, a defenseman for Florida, ended up in the goal to assist stop an Edmonton goal just seconds before Reinhart beat Skinner. Reinhart extended his Florida single-season record with his 67th goal of the year, and it was up to the Panthers to keep it going.

Up before Monday, Florida’s record while leading after two periods this season was an NHL-best 44-0-3. a record of 85-2-6 in the NHL in those circumstances over the two seasons under coach Maurice.

For the final time, they shut the door firmly. And their prize was the Cup.

The experienced defenseman Aaron Ekblad of the Panthers commented, “This is the best moment of my life so far.” “It is the best of all.”

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