Golden Knights vs Panthers Game 3 Stanley Cup Finals Preview

Quinn Allen
Quinn Allen
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Golden Knights vs Panthers Game 3 Stanley Cup Finals Preview

Thursday evening brings Game 3 of the 2023 Stanley Cup Finals as the Vegas Golden Knights take a 2-0 series lead on the road to face the Florida Panthers at FLA Live Arena. The puck is scheduled to drop at 8 PM ET. Vegas has essentially dominated through the first two contests and won Game 2 on Monday by a score of 7-2. Nothing is stopping them at the moment. Below, find the preview for this critical matchup.

Quick Take

  • The Vegas Golden Knights visit the Florida Panthers in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals Thursday
  • Florida is actually a slim favorite
  • Keep reading for the preview and analysis

Series Facts Through Two Games

Vegas has outscored Florida 12-4 in two games, with both wins coming at home. The Panthers’ best player, Matthew Tkachuk, has one point so far. Carter Verhaeghe meanwhile hasn’t tallied a point. On the other hand, Jonathan Marchessault, the Golden Knights’ biggest threat, is showing out, scoring three times and tallying an assist.

Vegas in Cruise Control

The Golden Knights were the best team in the West during the regular season therefore it’s only fitting they ended up winning it, too. And needless to say, Vegas is undoubtedly proving its worth on the big stage. After losing the 2018 Finals to the Washington Capitals, Bruce Cassidy’s squad looks dead set on making their Stanley Cup aspirations come true this time around.

Florida came into the series with all the momentum. But, the Golden Knights quickly stopped them in their tracks. Game 1 saw Vegas cruise to a 5-2 win where they capitalized off the Panthers’ penalty trouble. Then on Monday, they followed it up with another statement victory. This contest was truly all about the hosts.

By the end of the second period, the Knights were already up 4-0. Jonathan Marchessault continued his impressive postseason with an early goal before Alex Martinez also scored in the first. In the second, Nicolas Roy and Brett Howden found the back of the net as well. Vegas had a total of four powerplays here and once again made the most of them, scoring twice with the man advantage. Cassidy’s group is in cruise control in the series right now. Florida has proven to be no match. Despite that, Vegas is a slight underdog in Game 3 at some NHL sportsbooks.

Panthers in Trouble

A 2-0 hole isn’t impossible to come back from. But, it’s far from ideal for the Panthers, who have been on a Cinderella run during these playoffs. That being said, we do have to remember that Florida did overcome a 3-1 deficit in the first round against the Boston Bruins. They won’t be too worried.

Spending too much time in the penalty box has proven to be a problem for Paul Maurice’s team, It was seven penalties in Game 1 and then another four in Game 2 and Vegas scored twice with the extra man. The Panthers were by far the more physical team with 44 hits to just 24 for the Golden Knights but clearly, that physicality came back to haunt them a little bit too much. 

Netminder Sergei Bobrovsky is getting absolutely lit up in the Finals. He allowed four goals in the series opener before surrendering another four on just 13 shots Monday, which resulted in Maurice pulling him and inserting Alex Lyon. Unfortunately, he also conceded three goals on 15 shots. Just not a good night for the Florida keepers. 

On a more positive note, the Panthers have only lost three times in the postseason on home ice, which is likely why they’re a slim favorite in Game 3 Thursday at 888Sport.