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Stanley Cup Final: Panthers stifle Connor McDavid, Oilers to take 2-0 series with 2 goals from Evan Rodrigues

From: sports.yahoo.com

SUNRISE, FLORIDA - JUNE 10: Evan Rodrigues #17 of the Florida Panthers celebrates after scoring a goal against the Edmonton Oilers during the third period in Game Two of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final at Amerant Bank Arena on June 10, 2024 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

If Game 1 was about Sergei Bobrovsky, Game 2 belonged to Florida’s entire defense.

The Panthers stifled Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers Monday night to secure a 4-1 win in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. Evan Rodrigues scored two goals, while Florida secured a 28-19 advantage in shots on goal. The Panthers now hold a commanding 2-0 series lead with the series scheduled to shift to Edmonton for Game 3.

Florida set the tone early, tallying six shots on goal before Edmonton posted its first. It didn’t pay off on the scoreboard early as Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner stopped each offering, opening the door for Edmonton to strike first.

With the game in a scoreless tie, the Panthers secured a five-minute power play after a kneeing penalty on Edmonton’s Warren Foegele sent Eetu Luostarinen in pain to the ice at the 10:30 mark. But the sides shortly went to four-on-four after a tripping penalty on Florida’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

Edmonton secured a 3-on-1 break 19 seconds after the penalty, and Mattias Ekholm snuck the puck past Sergei Bobrovsky on an assist by McDavid with 8:43 remaining in the period.

After allowing zero goals on 32 shots in Game 1, Bobrovsky let Edmonton’s first shot Monday night into the net. But he didn’t allow another.

Florida finished the first period with a 9-4 advantage in shots on goal, but Edmonton led, 1-0 on the scoreboard. McDavid — who was held scoreless in Game 2 alongside the rest of his Oilers teammates, tallied an assist and two shots on goal in the opening period.

Florida continued to control the puck in the second and finally broke through to the scoreboard on a chaotic sequence midway through the period. Panthers defenseman Niko Mikkola almost scored on his own goal when he spun and sent the puck back toward Bobrovsky. Fortunately for the Panthers, Bobrovsky was ready for it and deflected the puck to his right down the goal line.

Panthers winger Vladimir Tarasenko corralled the puck by the board and sent it up ice to Anton Lundell. Lundell then took the puck past the opposing blue line and dropped it back to a waiting Mikkola, who one-timed it past Skinner to get the Panthers on the scoreboard.

The rocket of a goal was just Mikkola’s second in 42 career postseason games.

“He was awake,” Mikkola told ESPN’s Emily Kaplan of Bobrovsky’s save of the potential own goal. “So all good. … He’s ready for those. Everything that happens, he’s always there for me.”

Florida faced a golden chance for another goal on a power play late in the period when center Sam Bennett corralled a pass from Evan Rodrigues directly in front of the net. But Bennett sent the puck directly into the leg pads of Skinner, who stopped the point-blank shot.

The game went to the third period tied at 1-1 as Edmonton found itself on the wrong side of Stanley Cup history. The Oilers tallied just seven shots on goal through the game’s first 40 minutes. Per ESPN, that marked a fewest shots through two periods of a game Stanley Cup Final game since NHL started recording the stat in 1960.

Florida put 21 shots on the net in the same time frame, but managed to get just one past Skinner. That changed quickly at the onset of the third period.

As the clock ticked below 17:00, Rodrigues took control of the puck behind the Edmonton net, then launched a shot from the left wing. The shot was blocked right back on his stick, and he sent another shot that sailed over Skinner’s right shoulder into the right side of the net for a 2-1 Florida lead.

Nearly 10 minutes later, Rodrigues did it again, this time on a power play. He took a pass in transition from Lundell in front of the net and wristed it past Skinner’s left shoulder for a 3-1 lead.

The power-play goal was the first for Florida in five attempts Monday night. It snapped a streak of 34 straight penalty kills by the Oilers this postseason.

Minutes later, the Oilers went to an empty net. They pulled Skinner from goal with 5:53 remaining. Aaron Ekblad with an empty-net insurance goal with 2:28 left to increase the lead to 4-1.

The puck is scheduled to drop Thursday night for Game 3 in Edmonton.

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