Florida Panthers advance to second consecutive NHL Stanley Cup Final following victory over New York Rangers

The Florida Panthers advanced to the team’s second consecutive NHL Stanley Cup Final following a 2-1 win over the New York Rangers on Saturday.

The Panthers started scoring early in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final in front of their home fans at the Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise, Florida.

With just under a minute left in the first period, Panthers forward Sam Bennett found the back of the net to go up 1-0. Vladimir Tarasenko added an insurance goal in the third period.

As time expired, Panthers fans threw plastic rats onto the ice, continuing a longstanding tradition dating back to the franchise’s first Cup Final appearance in 1996.

Florida Panthers center Steven Lorentz skates with the puck as New York Rangers left wing Will Cuylle defends during Game 6 in the Eastern Conference finals of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs in Sunrise, Florida on Saturday. - Lynne Sladky/AP

The Panthers lost to the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup last year in their first Stanley Cup Final in 27 years.

Panthers All-Star forward Matthew Tkachuk said it was a complete team effort to make it to their second consecutive Cup Final. It will be the team’s third ever appearance in the Stanley Cup.

“Good defense, stingy play, timely goals, and a buy-in from everybody,” Tkachuk told reporters after the game. “We did not care who’s going to be out there doing the job, because everybody else would be doing another job. We have so much buy-in right now and we are really proud of the effort today.”

The Panthers will face the winner of the Western Conference Final between the Dallas Stars and Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers lead the series 3-2 and can clinch a spot with a win in Game 6 on Sunday.

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final is scheduled for June 8 at 8 p.m. ET.

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