Vegas Golden Knights Now One Win Away from the Championship

Posted on: June 11, 2023, 04:16h. 

Last updated on: June 11, 2023, 04:16h.

Three down, one to go. The Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Florida Panthers, 3-2, to win Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final which included an all-out brawl after the final buzzer sounded.

Panthers Golden Knights fight
Members of the Florida Panthers and Vegas Golden Knights are involved in an on-ice fight after Game 4 ended at FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, Florida. (Image: Getty)

The Golden Knights took a 3-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final, and moved one step closer to winning the franchise’s first NHL championship.

The Golden Knights won the first two games of the series in Las Vegas, and they split two road games in Florida.

Game 5 will take place on Tuesday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The Golden Knights have a chance to clinch a championship on their home ice and in front of their devoted fans.

Teams with a 3-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final are 36-1 overall. The only team to erase a 3-1 deficit in the finals were the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1942. The Detroit Red Wings blew a 3-1 lead, and the never-say-die Maple Leafs won three games in a row to win the championship.

Although history is not in their favor, the Panthers have faith that they can pull off a rare comeback. The Panthers upset the top-seeded Boston Bruins in the opening round after they trailed 3-1 in that series.

Golden Knights and Panthers in Rowdy Post-Game Fight

The Golden Knights scored early in the first period, and twice more in the second period to jump out to a 3-0 lead. Center Chandler Stephenson notched two goals, and center William Karlsson scored his first goal of the series.

The Panthers scored late in the second period, and trailed 3-1 entering in the third quarter. Center Aleksander Barkov scored a goal early in the third period to cut the deficit to 3-2.

The Golden Knights held off the Panthers and thwarted a comeback.

“Obviously, that was a battle till the last second,” said Golden Knights forward Nicolas Roy. “They pushed back there. We knew they would. They’ve been doing it all series. But, it’s nice to get that one.”

The Panthers pulled their goalie and had a two-man advantage with a power play in the final 18 seconds of regulation. The desperate Panthers failed to score a game-tying goal and force overtime. Golden Knights goalie Adin Hill limited the Panthers to two goals and he made 29 saves.

The Golden Knights were not happy that Panthers defenseman Brandon Montour crashed into Hill after the final buzzer went off, so a fight ensued. Bitter fans tossed empty beer cups, water bottles, and plastic rats onto the ice, while officials broke up multiple entanglements. Even Hill tussled in the extra-circular activity.

Felt my helmet get ripped off, and they had six guys on the ice, we had four, so get in there a bit and try and help out teammates,” said Hill.

“Those scrums are going to come,” said Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov. “We were close to tying the game, and there are a lot of guys at the net, and those things happen.”

Tkachuk Mystery Injury

Matthew Tkachuk has been the most-clutch player during the Panthers’ magical run this postseason. The veteran winger leads Panthers with 11 goals and 13 assists this postseason. Seven of his goals occurred in the third period or overtime.

Tkachuk struggled with an unidentified injury in Game 4, which limited his ice time. He was noticeably not 100%, and only shot a few pucks in pregame warmups which led to speculation he had some sort of shoulder injury.

Tkachuk was likely feeling the effects of a collision with Golden Knights forward Keegan Kolesar in first period of Game 3. NHL concussion spotters flagged Tkachuk, and he was sent to the locker room for an evaluation. He cleared concussion protocol, and returned to the ice midway through the second period. He even scored a game-tying goal in the third period to send Game 3 into overtime, which the Panthers ultimately won.

Two days after the collision, Tkachuk was clearly not his usual chipper self. He took four shots in Game 4, and did not score a goal or tally an assist. He sat out for nearly 11 minutes in the third period, and skated for just four shifts in the final frame.

Obviously, you want to be out there playing,” said Tkachuk. “Just was able to go out there at the end and tried to make some magic happen late but ran out of time.”

During the end-game melee, a frustrated Tkachuk earned multiple penalties for slashing and unsportsmanlike conduct in addition to a 10-minute misconduct. That marked his fourth 10-minute major penalty of the finals.

Betting the Golden Knights/Panthers in Game 5

Panthers head coach Paul Maurice was vague when reporters questioned them about the specifics regarding Tkachuk’s injury.

We got two days off to assess that,” said Maurice. “Get some good rest and we’ll make that decision then.”

Tkachuk’s status for Game 5 is unknown.

The Panthers are an underdog to win the series at +850 odds, according to DraftKings. The Golden Knights are -1400 odds as an overwhelming favorite to win the series and Stanley Cup.

DraftKings updated their series correct score prop bet. The Golden Knights are -165 odds to clinch the championship in Game 5 with a 4-1 final series score. The Golden Knights winning the series in six games pays out +330 odds. If the Panthers can win the next two games and force a seventh game, the Golden Knights are +600 odds to win the Stanley Cup in seven games.

The Panthers face their first elimination game of the series in Game 5. They must win three games in a row to pull off the rare comeback in the Stanley Cup Final to win the championship. The Panthers are +850 odds to win the series in seven games.

Golden Knights winger Jonathan Marchessault is the betting favorite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, or the Stanley Cup Final MVP, at -500 odds. Hill is the closest competitor at +1000 odds, followed by center Jack Eichel at +1500.

Tkachuk is the highest member of the Panthers on the NHL awards board at +1800 odds to win the Conn Smythe Trophy.