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Lynne Sladky / AP

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Adin Hill (33) defends the net from a shot by Florida Panthers left wing Anthony Duclair (10) during the second period of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals, Thursday, June 8, 2023, in Sunrise, Fla.

SUNRISE, Fla. — The Golden Knights appear to be doubling down with their approach after what transpired in Game 3 on Thursday.

Play that way again, and they’ll head back home with a 3-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Golden Knights have come to grips knowing that momentum has swung in the Florida Panthers’ way after winning 3-2 in overtime late Thursday night to cut Vegas’ series lead to 2-1. They’ll try to steal it back with Game 4 at FLA Live Arena tonight (5 p.m., TNT).

“I thought we played a pretty good game,” defenseman Brayden McNabb said. “It doesn’t matter how you lose. We move on and focus on Game 4.”

The ending to Game 3 could be viewed as a severe gut punch to the Golden Knights. They were two minutes away from taking a 3-0 series lead and knowing they’d be playing tonight with the Stanley Cup in the building.

But they knew the Panthers were going to respond in their first home game in the Cup Final in almost 30 years, and that they would have a response after the Golden Knights outscored them 12-4 in the first two games.

Florida tied it 2-2 with 2:13 remaining when Matthew Tkachuk scored on a rebound while the Panthers had an extra skater on the ice after pulling goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. After failing to convert on a power play in the first 1:49 of overtime, Carter Verhaeghe’s shot from the high slot beat Adin Hill 4:27 into the extra frame to give the Panthers their first ever win in the Cup Final. They were swept by the Colorado Avalanche in 1996.

Despite that missed opportunity, the Golden Knights won’t be making drastic changes to their approach. Given the way they played for a majority of Game 3 and containing the Panthers’ high-powered offense yet again, that’s where the confidence comes from.

“We liked our game last night. Didn’t work out for us,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “It could’ve gone either way. We were right there until the end.”

It didn’t help matters that Bobrovsky returned to his old form from the first three rounds, stopping nearly everything his way. The Panthers’ goalie made 25 saves, but the only goals allowed came on the power play. Vegas couldn’t find that last goal at 5-on-5.

The Golden Knights have been a dominant team at even strength throughout the playoffs, outsourcing opponents 56-28. In the six games they’ve lost, they’ve either lost the scoring battle at 5-on-5 or were even.

Thursday was the first time since Game 5 of the Western Conference Final against Dallas that the Golden Knights lost that battle. Florida outscored Vegas 2-0.

“You’re playing against a really good goaltender and a good hockey team. We’re not going to beat ourselves up over (Thursday’s) game,” Cassidy said. “We’re going to do what we’ve always done; look at where we can get better and keep growing our game and hope we can be better in Game 4.”

One way the Golden Knights can get better is getting off to a better start. While Cassidy felt the Golden Knights played well in the first period in holding Florida to five shots on goal, they still gave up the game’s first goal and gave up 19 shot attempts at 5-on-5.

Composure allowed the Golden Knights to rally and take a 2-1 lead into the third period. The inability to get that third goal proved costly, though. All six playoff losses have been a result of Vegas not reaching that three-goal mark, and it was the first time in 11 games this postseason the Golden Knights lost a game when leading in the third period.

“I think we’ve managed to stay composed throughout the playoffs. I never expected it to go super easy and it should not be,” center William Karlsson said. “To win as a grind, and sometimes you lose.”

There will be motivation for the Golden Knights to bounce back, knowing there’s a possibility they could win the Stanley Cup on home ice on Tuesday. To get there first means having to play their best game of the season in a hostile environment on Saturday.

McNabb said he still feels the Golden Knights are in control of the series through three games. Time will tell if that stays true.

“We’ve got a Game 4 and if we win Game 4, it’s 3-1. That’s a pretty big lead,” McNabb said. “They got a little momentum winning last game, but it ends after the game and both teams have a chance to regroup. We know what’s at stake for Game 4 and it’s a big game for us.”

Golden Knights-Panthers Game 4, Stanley Cup Final

When: 5 p.m.

Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise, Fla.


Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM

Odds: Panthers -115, Golden Knights -101; O/U 5.5 (Westgate SuperBook)

Danny Webster can be reached at 702-259-8814 or [email protected]. Follow Danny on Twitter at

Article written by #LasVegasSun