The Panthers won their first Stanley Cup title in Game 3 over the Oilers

EDMONTON, Alberta — Following their leaders that got them this far in the playoffs and the winning formula that has worked all season, the Florida Panthers are on the verge of hoisting the Stanley Cup.

Captain Alexander Barkov set up a goal and scored another, while Sergei Bobrovsky made some of the biggest of his 32 saves. .

They can clinch the first title in franchise history in Game 4 Saturday night in Edmonton.

“We know it’s definitely going to be a tough game,” Barkov said. “We don’t take anything for granted. Every day is one day at a time. It’s one period, one shift, we take it at a time. We’ve been like that all year.”

Florida took another step toward the top of the hockey mountain, pouncing on a few Edmonton turnovers and holding Connor McDavid scoreless. A late rally put the Oilers within one, but as the Panthers leaned on Bobrovsky, he made a highlight-reel stop on Ryan McLeod in the final minutes to preserve the win.

“They’re a very talented offensive team,” Bobrowski said. “They’re going to make plays. You pay attention to each one and it’s a fun challenge. It’s a fun challenge to play against them because they bring the best.”

Not long before that, Barkov forced one of Evan Bouchard’s giveaways seconds before Sam Reinhart’s goal.

“We allowed them to take that momentum and move forward,” Skinner said. “Just stupid mistakes. It didn’t need to happen.”

Edmonton was home to the first Stanley Cup Final with fans since 2006.

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To avoid that fate this time around and end Canada’s Cup drought, they’ll need a 3-0 comeback, something that’s only been done four times in NHL playoff history.

The last year a Canadian-based team won the Stanley Cup was Montreal in 1993, months before the Panthers’ inaugural season. The series was 1-8 in the finals.

Behind Barkov and Bobrovsky, Florida has completely flipped that script. The two leading candidates for the playoff MVP for the Conn Smythe Trophy were the two best players in Game 3, with Barkov getting the most hits from Leon Tricite, who sat out Monday night’s game in Game 2.

“From the beginning, our competitiveness and our desire and desire to win this was tremendous,” Bennett said. “Everybody was fighting right up to our goalie. It was nice to see the effort. You either have one, or you don’t. We have 23 dogs on our team. You have that choice, or you have it. Don’t.”

Another big reason the Panthers are here is because winger Matthew Tkach also had a big assist and increased pressure on Edmonton.

The Oilers wilted under it, losing a game in which they were often the better team but couldn’t overcome ill-timed mistakes. Skinner scored four goals on 23 shots and Warren Fogele, Philip Broberg and McLeod scored while McDavid lost in a disappointing fashion for the first time all playoffs.

“We’re just trying to find them,” said McDavid, who put five shots on net. “We didn’t beat them in three games. We had good, bad stretches.”

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Backing off elite opponents and defending them enough to second-guess their ability to score is a big part of the Panthers’ style, and a big reason why they’re on the league’s biggest stage and putting coolers on the ice for a potential championship. Celebrating 2,500 miles from home.

By beating Edmonton Thursday night, they showed no ill effects from waiting to fly from South Florida to Alberta, which was questioned when their flight was delayed by a storm and arrived hours late Wednesday. Buck drop before 24 hours. Instead of looking jet-lagged, the Panthers jumped on scoring opportunities and delivered when it mattered most.

“We’re staying with the moment,” Bobrowski said. “We don’t think too much of ourselves. We stay with the moment and enjoy the moment.”

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