Panthers beat Oilers in Stanley Cup Final Game 7 as Canada’s drought continues

Carter Verhaeghe scored one goal and assisted on another to lead the Florida Panthers to a title-clinching 2-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final on Monday.

Sam Reinhart scored the Cup win for the Panthers, who saw a 3-0 best-of-seven series lead disappear before claiming the first Stanley Cup title in franchise history. Edmonton’s defeat extends the streak of years since a Canadian team last won the Stanley Cup to 31. The Montreal Canadiens last brought the Cup north in 1993. Since then, there have been seven attempts by teams from Canadian cities: Vancouver in 1994 and 2011, Calgary in 2004, the Oilers in 2006, Ottawa in 2007 and the Canadiens in 2021 – to win titles, and all was in vain.

Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky made 23 saves for the Panthers, nine of which came in the final frame. His biggest play was a diving stop on Zach Hyman during a scramble against his net with seven minutes left.

Mattias Janmark scored for Edmonton, while goalkeeper Stuart Skinner stopped 19 shots. Edmonton captain Connor McDavid was held without a point for the second straight game.

“It’s not a dream anymore. It’s not a dream. It’s a reality,” said Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk, who was traded to Florida two summers ago with a title in mind. ‘I can not believe it. I can not believe it. … I can’t believe how good these two years have been. So thankful for this group of guys. It’s the best place, dear guys. It’s something very special here with what we have.”

The Oilers, trying to become only the second team in history and the first since 1942 to win after trailing 3-0 in the finals, lost their last two trips in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. They also fell just short against the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.

Reinhart gave Florida their second lead of the night at 15:11 of the second period. Seconds after the Oilers nearly scored during a flurry of action on both ends, Reinhart led a rush up the ice and found the net from just beyond the right faceoff dot for his 10th of the playoffs.

The Oilers dominated the third period, holding the Panthers to just four shots on goal in the frame and just two in the final (14:43). However, Edmonton could not find the equalizer in a tense affair despite a litany of action on the Florida net.

“This is the best moment of my life so far,” said veteran Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad. “There’s nothing like it.”

The clubs traded goals just over two minutes apart in the first period. Verhaeghe’s first goal since opening the scoring in Game 1 of the finals put the Panthers on the board first. He deflected Evan Rodrigues’ shot for his 11th of the playoffs at 4:27. Janmark answered at 6:44 with his second of the series and fourth of the postseason, converting a breakaway opportunity with a top-shelf shot.

Instead of repeating history with a completed comeback, the Oilers become only the second team in history to force a Game 7 after trailing 3-0 in the finals before losing the deciding game. The Detroit Red Wings pushed the Toronto Maple Leafs to a Game 7 in that scenario in 1945, three years after the Maple Leafs rallied after three games to top the Red Wings in the finals.

McDavid won the Conn Smythe as MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He didn’t come out for the trophy. It’s certainly not the one he wanted. The Cup is what they play for, and it was Florida that hoisted it.