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Florida Panthers smother Edmonton Oilers in Game 2 to take control of Stanley Cup Finals

SUNRISE — Evan Rodrigues scored two goals in the third period and the Florida Panthers defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 to take a 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final.

“He was so good,” Matthew Tkachuk said. “I’m so happy for him, I’m so proud of him. He was awesome. Playing with him the last few games, he reads the game so well and that’s two games in a row he’s scoring some big goals for us. He is a super smart player and I’m happy to see him get rewarded right now.”

Mattias Ekholm gave the Oilers the lead 11:17 into the first period after Oliver Ekman-Larsson took a penalty in the middle of a five-minute Florida power play. The Panthers had to chase the game for a while after whiffing on that golden opportunity.

Niko Mikkola tied the game up 9:34 into the second period, wiring a one-timer off of a slick drop pass by Anton Lundell. The Panthers controlled the pace of play and wired shots on net from there, holding a 22-7 lead in shots on goal heading into the third period.

Rodrigues scored the go-ahead goal 3:11 into the third period, then scored with 7:34 to go to put the Panthers up by two. He now has three goals through two games in the Stanley Cup Final.

Florida captain Aleksander Barkov left the game after taking a hit to the head from Leon Draisaitl near the midway point of the third period and did not return. Aaron Ekblad sealed the deal with an empty-net goal.

Coach Paul Maurice did provide an update on Barkov’s status during postgame media availability.

“This isn’t the Oprah Winfrey Show,” Maurice said when he was asked for his thoughts on the hit. “My feelings don’t matter.”

Jun 10, 2024; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers forward Evan Rodrigues (17) celebrates scoring during the third period against the Edmonton Oilers in game two of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final at Amerant Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 10, 2024; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers forward Evan Rodrigues (17) celebrates scoring during the third period against the Edmonton Oilers in game two of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final at Amerant Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

From Joe Schad: Florida Panthers seize control of series and are heavy favorites now for Stanley Cup

Here are three takeaways from Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final:

Panthers penalty kill continues to shut down Oilers power play

The Panthers continued to get themselves into penalty trouble — being shorthanded four times — but they held the dangerous Edmonton power play off the board again.

Last game, it was all Sergei Bobrovsky. This time, it was structure and aggressive play frustrating the Oilers to shut them down completely. They held Edmonton to just one shot on those four power plays.

Panthers flip script from Game 1, dominate posession

After trailing heavily in shots on goal, scoring chances and high-danger chances in Game 1, the Panthers flipped the script and played Game 2 on their terms: a suffocating, defensive style.

Through the first two periods, Florida led 22-7 in shots, 12-3 in scoring chances and 5-0 in high-danger chances. Edmonton was able to generate some chances in the third period, but the Panthers converted on their chances, Sergei Bobrovsky made big saves and they held on to win.

“We just didn’t sit back and we kept up the pressure,” Vladimir Tarasenko said. “We didn’t try holding up the score, we just kept playing our game.”

22-year-old Anton Lundell steps up in big moments once again

The maturity of 22-year-old young star Anton Lundell showed once again. He has future star potential, and it is showing on the NHL’s biggest stage.

Lundell’s two assists were highlight-worthy. His first was a slick no-look drop pass to set up Mikkola. He then he fired a saucer pass from the far side of the ice to find Rodrigues in front.

He now has three goals and 11 assists through 19 this postseason.

“He’s just a big game player,” Rodrigues said. “He loves the challenge, loves the moment and I think he elevates his game in the playoffs because he relishes the challenges that come with a harder game, more meaningful games and I really liked what I’ve seen from him.”

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Panthers smother Connor McDavid, Oilers stake lead in Stanley Cup Finals