Stanley Cup Final: Bobrovsky, defense lead Panthers past Oilers in Game 1


June 8 (UPI) -- Sergei Bobrovsky used every inch of his body to parry pucks, while the Florida Panthers defense delivered crushing hits to the Edmonton Oilers attack en route to a 3-0 shutout Saturday in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Forwards Carter Verhaeghe, Evan Rodrigues and Eetu Luostairinen scored in the triumph in Sunrise, Fla. The Panthers will host the Oilers in Game 2 of the best-of-seven game series Monday on the same ice at Amerant Bank Arena.

"They obviously have an elite offense and it was a really hard game," Bobrovsky said on the ABC broadcast. "They are really smart players."

Bobrovsky made 32 saves to secure his second shutout this postseason. The Oilers, led by star forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, outshot the Panthers 32-18.

The Oilers unleashed a series of shots early on, but could not convert against Bobrovsky, who frequently flailed his limbs to keep his team out of danger. Verhaeghe then lit the lamp for first blood just 3:59 into the first period.

Center Aleksander Barkov carried the puck through the neutral zone and past the blue line during that sequence. He then found winger Sam Reinhart to his right as he skated against the boards.

Reinhart sent a quick pass back to Barkov, who slid the puck to his left, finding Verhaeghe, who scooped a quick wrist shot between goalie Stuart Skinner's stick and the left post.

The Oilers outshot the Panthers 12-4 through the first 20 minutes. The Panthers' defense continued to erase power plays and defuse Oilers attacks in the second period.

Rodrigues doubled the lead with a top-shelf snap shot 2:16 into the bridge frame.

Forward Sam Bennett and defenseman Brandon Montour assisted that score. Montour first sent the puck to Bennett, who skated toward the Oilers blue line.

Bennett dumped the puck into the back wall, but was able to recover the wall pass and sent a feed back to a trailing Rodrigues. The Panthers forward finished the play with his clean shot into the upper right corner of the net.

Luostairinen then scored on an empty net with just seconds remaining. Barkov picked up his second assist on that goal.

Puck drop for Game 2 is scheduled for 8 p.m. EDT Monday in Sunrise. The Oilers will host Game 3 on Thursday in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

"It's only Game 1," Bobrovsky said. "It's a long series, but yeah. it's a great start."