The Florida Panthers continue their miraculous run through the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs after being the last team to earn a postseason spot.
Meanwhile, the Dallas Stars were able to keep their hopes alive for a second Stanley Cup by avoiding a sweep and winning Game 4 against the Vegas Golden Knights.
The first ticket to the 2023 Stanley Cup Final was punched on Wednesday night with the Panthers defeating the Hurricanes in Game 4.
Florida completed the sweep as Matthew Tkachuk continued to lead his team through the postseason.
Even if the Panthers don’t ultimately hoist the Cup, an argument could still be made for him winning the Conn Smythe Trophy.
Tkachuk scored three game-winning goals against Carolina and assisted in the lone goal scored in Game 3.
He and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky are the primary reasons for Florida going on an incredible 11-1 run since going down 3-1 to the Boston Bruins in the first round.
What’s even more impressive is that nine of those wins came by just a single goal.
It truly is incredible when realizing that the Panthers were the final team to even make the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
If not for the Pittsburgh Penguins' loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, arguably the worst team in hockey this season, at the end of the year, Florida would likely not have even made it.
Regardless, they’ve become the third team in NHL history to eliminate three of the top four seeds in a single postseason and are now in their first Stanley Cup Final since 1996 and looking for their first title.
The Florida Panthers are now +110 to win the Stanley Cup.
There was potential for sweeps in both conference finals, but the Dallas Stars were able to narrowly escape that fate.
They had their second home game of the series in Game 4 and were able to grab the 3-2 win in overtime.
It was the third overtime game of the series, with Vegas obviously winning each of the first two.
The extra time had not treated Dallas well, as they were 0-4 in overtime games this postseason heading into Thursday’s Game 4.
It was veteran Joe Pavelski who scored the game-winning goal, which was also his 73rd Stanley Cup Playoff goal, the most among active players.
The Golden Knights had been great when playing in the lead, as they were 10-0 when tied or leading after the second period before the Game 4 loss.
They’ll now get to head back to Vegas for Game 5 on Saturday, and it’s also important to note that Stars captain Jamie Benn will still be serving his two-game suspension he received after his Game 3 hit on Vegas captain Mark Stone.
Despite the loss, the Golden Knights are still the favorites to hoist the 2023 Stanley Cup at -110.