The surprising Panthers – the third No. 8 seed to reach the Final – are playing for the Cup for the second time since joining the league in 1993. The Colorado Avalanche swept the Panthers in 1996.
The Golden Knights, a recent expansion addition to the NHL (joined in 2017), reached the Final in their inaugural season but lost in five games to the Washington Capitals.
Vegas is the top seed from the Western Conference with 111 points in the regular season, 19 more than Florida.
Game 4 is Saturday night in Florida. Game 7, if necessary, is set for June 19 in Las Vegas.
HEAD-TO-HEAD REGULAR SEASON
Schedule, scores for the series (all times 8:30 p.m. ET, TV TNT):
Game 1: Golden Knights 5, Panthers 2
Game 2: Golden Knights 7, Panthers 2
Game 3: Panthers 3, Golden Knights 2 (OT)
Game 4: Golden Knights at Panthers, Saturday
Game 5: Panthers at Golden Knights, Tuesday
Game 6: Golden Knights at Panthers, June 16 *
Game 7: Panthers at Golden Knights, June 19 *
* = if necessary
The Panthers aim to become the second No. 8 seed to win the Stanley Cup under the current format, joining the Los Angeles Kings (2012).
Florida is not a fluke after rallying from a 3-1 deficit in the first round to oust the Boston Bruins – the heavy favorite to win it all entering the postseason – then bumping the favored Toronto Maple Leafs in the conference semifinals in five games.
Vegas used a strong second half to charge into the playoffs.
The Golden Knights were 29-18-4 and on a four-game skid heading into the All-Star break.
Vegas won five in a row after the break en route to the Pacific Division title.
Heading into the season, Vegas (+2500) was a much longer shot to win the Cup than the Panthers (+900). Florida was at +11000 after falling behind Boston 3-1 in the first round.
Here are the past 10 Stanley Cup winners:
2022: Colorado Avalanche
2021: Tampa Bay Lightning
2020: Tampa Bay Lightning
2019: St. Louis Blues
2018: Washington Capitals
2017: Pittsburgh Penguins
2016: Pittsburgh Penguins
2015: Chicago Blackhawks
2014: Los Angeles Kings
2013: Chicago Blackhawks
CONN SMYTHE TROPHY ODDS
Who will win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player to his team in these playoffs?
Here are the top seven betting favorites heading into the Stanley Cup Final:
Sergei Bobrovsky, Panthers goalie: +200 (bet $10 to win $30 total)
Jack Eichel, Golden Knights center: +375 (bet $10 to win $47.50 total)
Matthew Tkachuk, Panthers right wing: +375 (bet $10 to win $47.50 total)
Jonathan Marchessault, Golden Knights right wing: +600 (bet $10 to win $70 total)
William Karlsson, Golden Knights center: +600 (bet $10 to win $70 total)
Adin Hill, Golden Knights goalie: +1000 (bet $10 to win $110 total)
Mark Stone, Golden Knights right wing: +2000 (bet $10 to win $210 total)
CONN SMYTHE WINNERS SINCE 2013
2022 Cale Makar, Avalanche defenseman
2021 Andrei Vasilevskiy, Lightning goalie
2020 Victor Hedman, Lightning defenseman
2019 Ryan O’Reilly, Blues center
2018 Alexander Ovechkin, Capitals left wing
2017 Sidney Crosby, Penguins center
2016 Sidney Crosby, Penguins center
2015 Duncan Keith, Blackhawks defenseman
2014 Justin Williams, Kings right wing
2013 Patrick Kane, Blackhawks right wing
2012 Jonathan Quick, Kings goalie
So who are you backing to hoist Lord Stanley’s chalice, the Panthers or the Golden Knights? Head on over to FOX Bet to place your bet now!
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