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Jun 1, 2024 11:16 pm

Panthers oust Rangers, return to Stanley Cup Final

Rangers, Panthers

Sam Bennett scored with 50 seconds left in the first period and Sergei Bobrovsky made 23 saves as the Florida Panthers beat the New York Rangers 2-1 on Saturday night in Sunrise, Fla., to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the second straight season.

The Panthers will get a chance to play for the Stanley Cup for the third time since entering the league as an expansion team in the 1993-94 season. Florida won the best-of-seven Western Conference finals 4-2 by taking Games 4, 5 and 6, avoiding a trip back to New York for Game 7, which would have been on Monday.

Vladimir Tarasenko scored in the third period as the Panthers eliminated a Presidents’ Trophy team for the second straight season. In 2023, Florida overcame a 3-1 deficit in a first-round playoff series to beat the 65-win Boston Bruins.

After knocking off the Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes, the Panthers fell to the Vegas Golden Knights in last year’s finals.

Florida will host Game 1 of the finals next Saturday if it faces the Oilers. If the Stars beat Edmonton, the Panthers will open the series on the road in Dallas.

Edmonton currently leads the Western Conference finals 3-2. Game 6 of that series is set for Sunday.

Artemi Panarin scored his first goal since his game-winner in overtime in Game 3 of a second-round series against Carolina, but the marker came too late for the Rangers, who lost in the conference finals for the second time in three seasons.

New York goaltender Igor Shesterkin made 32 saves.

Bennett scored for the third straight game after New York defenseman Jacob Trouba lost the puck to Evan Rodrigues near the left boards.

Bennett breezed past Trouba and passed the puck to Rodrigues before getting the return feed. Bennett then finished off the play with a blistering shot from the edge of the left circle that sailed over Shesterkin’s glove and went into the top corner of the net.

Tarasenko put the Panthers ahead 2-0 with 10:52 left in the third by converting Anton Lundell’s centering pass, beating Shesterkin following a giveaway by New York defenseman K’Andre Miller.

The Rangers finally scored when Panarin ripped a shot from the left circle with 1:40 to go.

–Field Level Media

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