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Rebecca Blackwell / AP

Florida Panthers center Carter Verhaeghe (23) and Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez (23) hoop after the puck during the third period of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals, Thursday, June 8, 2023, in Sunrise, Fla.

Sunrise, Fla. — 

Ivan Barbashev wristed a shot off the post late in the third period Thursday night, and the clanking noise that echoed across FLA Live Arena worked like an alarm clock for the Florida Panthers.

The Panthers sprang to action after the Golden Knights’ near-miss “nail in the coffin,” in the words of Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy, and ultimately came back to life in the final few minutes of regulation and beginning of overtime. They took over a game that had seemed to be drifting away from them, scoring an equalizer right after pulling their goalie, killing a penalty and then firing in the game winner less than five minutes into overtime.

Florida’s comeback 3-2 overtime victory Vegas reawakened their chances to win the Stanley Cup Final, now trailing only 2-1 in the best-of-seven series going into Game 4 at 5 p.m. Saturday night on TNT.

“Barby hits the post there with a minute or whatever left, and (if it goes in) it’s a different scenario,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “Game of inches this time of year. We’ll regroup and get ready for the next game.”

That was the unified message from the Golden Knights’ dressing room, which prompted a sound as telling as Barbashev’s missed shot — virtual silence. There was nothing like shouted expletives or pads slamming against walls audible from the other side of the wall before media was let in a few minutes after the game.

Those kinds of rumblings are typical after a team blows a big game in the fashion that the Golden Knights did on Thursday night, but fans should be relieved that’s not how the Western Conference champions reacted. Frustration can get in the way of progress, and the Golden Knights are fully focused on the latter.

“The series we knew was going to be tough,” captain Mark Stone said. “We’re a resilient team. We want to be able to close games, but we’ll regroup and get ready for the next one.”

That’s something the Golden Knights have done exceptionally throughout this playoff run, having gone 4-1 off a loss.

“It’s not going to affect our mindset in overtime because we’ve been through it,” Cassidy said. “We’d like to not have to do that, but I think we were ready to play in overtime. They just made a play.”

Cassidy hasn’t shied from calling out his team when it plays poorly; see most notably the Golden Knights’ blowout loss to the Jets in this year’s playoff opener. But he’s nuanced enough to know when the Golden Knights need to hear criticism and when they need to stay the course.

They need to stay the course after the latest loss, only their sixth of the postseason. The Golden Knights’ Game 3 performance was far from one of their better outings in the postseason, but it was also strong enough to win.

After shaking off some early lethargy that included falling into a 1-0 hole, Vegas was the better team for the majority of the game — specifically during the second period and the first half of the third. The Golden Knights were ahead of the Panthers by any and all statistics at 5-on-5 play, but they didn’t get rewarded for it.

Their only two goals were on power plays — a Mark Stone tip-in in the first period and a Jonathan Marchessault rocket from the faceoff circle in the second — as Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky otherwise rediscovered the form that alluded him in the first two games in Las Vegas.

“We’re moving onto Game 4,” Eichel said. “I thought we had some chances. Their goalies made some saves. We’ve just got to stay on it.”

Some may be concerned that the Golden Knights weren’t more fiery after sacrificing an opportunity to go up 3-0 in the championship series, but they’ve proven this demeanor works for them. They similarly showed no signs of panic when Edmonton’s power-play prowess struck them on a couple occasions in the second round, or when Dallas bounced back from a rough start to win two straight in the Western Conference Finals.

Both those matchups turned out well enough. Cassidy has been vividly in sync with his team all year, and he said he didn’t foresee the nature in which they lost on Thursday being an issue.

Everything’s different if Barbashev’s shot is an inch over, and sometimes it’s worthwhile to have that perspective.

“Obviously, you don’t want to blow a lead,” Eichel said. “You’re up a goal with two minutes left but that’s all part of it. No one said it was going to be easy.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or

Article written by #LasVegasSun