Advertisement

Stanley Cup Final: Evan Rodrigues leads Panthers past Oilers in Game 2

UPI

June 10 (UPI) -- Evan Rodrigues scored twice in the third period, including a go-ahead snipe, to lead the Florida Panthers past the Edmonton Oilers on Monday in Game 2 of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final.

The Panthers fell behind 1-0 early on before scoring four unanswered goals in the 4-1 triumph at Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise, Fla. They now own a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven-game series, which will move to Canada for Game 3 and Game 4.

"I really embrace the moment right now," Rodrigues said on the ABC broadcast. "Whatever they need me to do, first, second, third or fourth line. Whatever they need me to do.

"It's kinda something I've always prided myself on."

With his performance, Rodrigues became the first Panthers player to score multiple goals in a Stanley Cup Final game. Forward Anton Lundell logged two assists in the victory.

The Panthers, who were outshot 32-18 in Game 1, held a 28-19 advantage in attempts on net in Game 2. They also edged their northern foes 14-4 in takeaways.

Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (18 saves) continued to be a wall between the pipes, while the Panthers defense stymied Connor McDavid and the Oilers' high-octane attack.

Defenseman Matthias Ekholm drew first blood for the Oilers with a 4-on-4 goal 9:21 into Game 2. McDavid sparked the goal by skating past two defenders deep in Oilers territory.

He then sent a pass ahead for Ekholm who darted into the neutral zone during a 3-on-1 opportunity. Ekholm skated into Panthers territory, pulled his stick back and unleashed a fierce wrist shot, sending the puck between Bobrovsky's legs and into the net.

Defenseman Brandon Montour hit the cross bar with a blazing snap shot just seconds later for one of the Panthers' best early opportunities, but the Oilers carried a 1-0 lead into the second period.

The Panthers finally tied the score when defenseman Niko Mikkola scored off a breakaway midway through the bridge frame. Forward Vladimir Tarasenko held the puck near the right boards to start that sequence. He then sent a pass on to Lundell, who skated toward the the left circle.

Lundell then slipped a blind drop pass to a trailing Mikkola, who ripped a snap shot just past goalie Stuart Skinner's glove and inside the right post.

The Panthers continued to struggle to contain a speedy McDavid, who frequently skated circles around their defense. The NHL star fired several attempts on net, but could not put the Oilers ahead again as the game was tied 1-1 to start the third period.

Rodrigues finally provided the go-ahead goal with his sizzler 3:11 into the final frame. Defenseman Aaron Ekblad started the sequence by firing a puck to forward Kyle Okposo along the right boards. Okposo then smacked the puck off the wall behind the goal, with Rodrigues recovering on the other side.

Rodrigues sent the puck forward, but it was stolen by the Oilers defense. Defenseman Evan Bouchard then accidentally gave the puck right back to Rodrigues, who sent his screamer into the upper left corner, finding a tiny space between Skinner's shoulder and the crossbar.

The Oilers came up empty on more than a half-dozen shots on goal over the next nine minutes. Rodrigues then doubled the Panthers lead off a power-play goal with 7:34 remaining. Lundell and defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson assisted that score.

The play started when Ekman-Larsson received the puck near the Panthers goal. He sent a pass ahead to Rodrigues, who carried the puck over the blue line and into the neutral zone. Rodrigues then sent a feed to his left as Lundell knifed up the ice.

Lundell continued his skate before issuing a pass to his right, just above the crease. Rodrigues threw his stick in front of the puck, deflecting it past Skinner and into the right side of the net.

Ekblad scored on an empty-netter about five minutes later for the final goal of the night.

The Oilers (0-2) will host the Panthers (2-0) in Game 3 of the best-of-seven-game series Thursday at Rodgers Place. They will host Game 4 on Saturday in Edmonton, Alberta.