There's not a single team in the last 25 years that has been more dominant than the Vegas Golden Knights through the first two games of a Stanley Cup Final. Following a 7-2 victory over the Florida Panthers on Monday night, Vegas have taken a confident 2-0 lead in the Cup Finals series.
It may be all over for the Panthers by Game 4 on Saturday night if they keep up their current form, but any true fan of the NHL will be hoping they can pull it back and make things interesting before we see one side lift the cup.
Stanley Cup Final: Game 1 Recap
The Golden Knights took the lead in the Stanley Cup Playoffs by using their winning strategy of coming back from behind, playing with discipline, offense, and a touch of surprise from Adin Hill.
Zach Whitecloud and Mark Stone combined to score 2 goals within the first 7 minutes of the third period. Hill made 33 saves, including an impressive stick save in the early stages of the second period when the game was tied. With these strong performances, the Golden Knights won the game against the Florida Panthers with a score of 5-2 in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.
It feels awesome. We're three away. Our job is not finished. You know Florida is going to have a push in Game 2. I thought we played a great game tonight, so it's kind of rinse and repeat.
Stanley Cup Final: Game 2 Recap
Vegas followed up their game 1 victory with an impressive 7-2 win to move to 2-0 in the series. This is a huge step towards winning their first championship since the franchise was established six years ago.
Adin Hill continued to protect the net in the second matchup, making 29 saves throughout the game. In the first period, he prevented Carter Verhaeghe from scoring on a breakaway, and he later hit Tkachuk to stop another goal.
On the other side, is Sergei Bobrovsky who, after an impressive run has taken a fall in the Finals. The two-time Vezina Trophy winner, was the driving force behind Florida's success in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Leading up to the Stanley Cup Final, he had won 11 out of his last 12 starts with an average of 1.95 goals conceded. But, things have taken a turn in against Vegas as he allowed eight goals in just 87 minutes, upping his goals-against average to 5.52.
The difference maker is becoming clear - Vegas has far more depth in the roster, while Florida has been relying on one lone star to carry the team.
I think our depth has been a strength all year. It is the biggest reason we are still here, why we beat Winnipeg, Edmonton, Dallas. I just feel that we have the best team from player one through 20.
Bruce Cassidy, Vegas Coach
Stanley Cup Final: Game 3 Moneyline Odds
Surprisingly, the sportsbooks are predicting the Panthers to take Game 3. Here are the odds from DraftKings:
Vegas Golden Knights: +100
Florida Panthers: -120
How the Panthers can win
For the Panthers to make a comeback in the series it would be quite challenging, but they do have home advantage for Game 3. In the past, teams that have taken a 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final have won 31 times out of 34 in the era of expansion. However, the Panthers showed their resilience in the playoffs by coming back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the heavily favoured Boston Bruins.
If Matthew Tkachuk performs well, Florida could certainly steal the show. He has had some issues with penalties in previous games, but he has also been a top scorer in the playoffs with 22 points and four game-winning goals. In Game 2, Tkachuk scored a late goal and joined the group of players with double-digit goals in these playoffs. Maybe he'll return to his hot streak on the home rink.
Also, Anton Lundell has recently started to contribute well, despite having a scoreless streak for six games. He put up points in the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final and assisted in the series opener. He's joined by Anthony Duclair who has also been in good form, with a three-game point streak, and he assisted Lundell's goal in the last game.
If these players can link up well in Game 3, the Panthers stand a good chance at pulling back the series.
How the Knights can win
After their consecutive losses to Dallas in the Western Conference final, Vegas put on a display of real offensive talent. Since then, they have been on a roll and dominated the Panthers in their matchups. In fact, they have scored the most goals in the first two games of a Stanley Cup Final in the expansion era, matching the 1982 New York Islanders' record of 12.
Vegas has a great track record of winning when they score at least three goals in a playoff game, recording 34 consecutive games with at least three goals, including 14 in the postseason. The last time they lost such a game was in overtime against San Jose in Game 7 of their first-round series in 2019. If they can keep finding the net, they're likely to bring this one home.
One of the biggest impacts has been Jonathan Marchessault, who recorded two goals and an assist in Game 2. He has been consistent throughout the postseason and holds the franchise playoff record with 12 goals, seven of which were scored in the last seven games. If he keeps this up, Vegas could sweep the entire series...
With all that being said, I'm going with the underdogs for Game 3. They have dominated the first two matchups and there's not much pointing to a Panthers win, despite the odds in the sportsbooks.
Our Prediction: Knights to Win Game 3
Do you think we've made the right call? Or are you going with the Game 3 favourites, the Florida Panthers? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter & Instagram, and be sure to follow for the latest sports news!
(Header Image Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie - USA TODAY Sports)