Florida Panthers vs. Edmonton Oilers Game 3 Recap | 06/14/2024

Sam Bennett scores in the second period. Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images

One of my all-time favorite quotes from a sporting coach comes from the Nebraska Cornhuskers Women’s Volleyball Head Coach John Cook, “Defense wins championships,” his entire coaching philosophy is built around that. Head Coach Paul Maurice has implemented a similar philosophy since joining the Panthers last season; any player who’s been interviewed has at some point talked about their defense-first mentality. That change in focus for Florida is why they’re besting Edmonton even when they’re not dominating O-zone time. Through three games, the Cats have held the Oilers’ top points getters to zero goals, and only McDavid has accumulated points of any kind. You’ll hear people say that Florida’s getting outplayed because they’ve spent more time playing defense in Games 1 & 3, but I don’t agree with that assessment. Things have been mostly even in terms of offensive ability. Still, the Panthers’ defense has suppressed the Oilers’ offense and Florida is more consistent at turning defense into offense with their transition game. Florida played one of their best periods of the series in the second period and may have bent in the third but they didn’t break. If anyone was wondering how Florida would deal with the Edmonton crowd, well, they dealt with them the same way they dealt with the Rangers crowd at MSG, just fine and even going so far as to silence them. Overall it was another strong showing from the Cats that puts them one step closer to raising Lord Stanley’s Cup for the first time ever.

Defense Snuffing Out Offense:

There was plenty of chatter coming into this series on how would Florida deal with Edmonton’s offense, well suffice it to say that they’ve dealt with it just fine. The Panthers have kept Draisaitl, Bouchard, Nugent-Hopkins, and Hyman without a goal or assist, and they’ve limited McDavid to three assists. Bobrovsky’s been massive this series, just like he was against the Rangers, and has made great save after great save, allowing the Panther offense to capitalize on their opportunities and have a 3-0 series lead. Bob’s been nothing short of outstanding both in this series and throughout the entire year; let’s not forget the insane no-look save he made in round 1 against Tampa. Bob currently has a .916 SV% and is averaging just 2.15 GAA for the playoffs. He’s been supported by a full-team defense from the Panthers, who have been blocking shots, disrupting shooting lanes, and breaking up passes. The Cats have given up nothing close around the net, and all the Oilers’ goals have come from the faceoff circle areas. Florida’s also kept Edmonton out of the slot for the most part, forcing them to take shots from farther out and giving Bob more reaction time. The Panthers have been all over McDavid every time he’s on the ice not giving him any time or space to make as many plays as he’d like to, they’ve even forced him to take on a more shoot-first mentality for Game 3 as nothing was working in the first two games. He’s an outstanding player and will have his chances but Florida’s limited what sort of damage he can do.

Second Period 4 Minutes and 91 Seconds:

Sam Reinhart gave the Cats a late 1-0 lead coming out of the first period when he tipped in a pass from Forsling on the glove side of Skinner. However, it would be the second period where the scoring got a bit out of hand, you could say. A rare defensive miscue from Florida allowed Foegele a breakaway where he beat Bobrovsky to tie the game. Things stayed tied heading to the midway point of the period, but then a misplay by Skinner behind the net let Luostarinen pick it up and pass it to Tarasenko, who buried it for the 2-1 lead. About four minutes later, Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Bennett teamed up for goal number three on the night, with Tkachuk picking up a turnover and then feeding it to Bennett, who beat Skinner on the blocker side. 91 seconds later, a great defensive play from Reinhart sprung Rodrigues and Barkov for a 2-on-1, with Rodrigues passing the puck to Barkov to score for the 4-1 lead. It was one of Edmonton’s worst defensive periods of this series, and the Panthers made them pay for it, silencing the home crowd in the process. Barkov’s goal would stand as the game-winner as a lucky bounce off Mikkola got in just behind Bob, and McLeod tipped in a shot from Kulak in the third period for a 4-3 final score.

Staying In The Moment:

After each game, the Panthers have been asked in their media availability how they’re handling things mentally, being so close to achieving their goal. Each of them has echoed the same thing in some form, “We’re just staying in the moment and taking things one game at a time”. That type of laser-sharp focus is needed to see this journey through to the end with the outcome they want. Even Head Coach Paul Maurice has said something similar, the team knows the job isn’t done until they win that fourth game. All season long, this group has been more serious compared to last year’s team, as they’ve used the ultimate loss to fuel them to get back to this point and be on the winning side this time. The even-keeled emotion of the team has allowed them to weather pushes from the opposition and not panic whether they’re up in the series or game or down; they play the exact same way. The steadiness lets them play a more patient offense and a grinding game that wears down the opponents. Game 3 was a rarity where the Oilers outscored the Panthers in the final twenty minutes of regulation. But even with Edmonton getting two goals Florida didn’t panic, just played their solid defense and defended the lead they had. If staying in the moment and focusing on one game at a time is key then Florida’s unlocked the door for post-season success for themselves. The fourth win is notoriously the hardest one to get, so we’ll see how the Panthers respond with Edmonton in an even more desperate must-win situation. Game 4 is set for Saturday, June 15th, at 8 pm EST/7 pm CT in Edmonton.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

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