The Panthers’ top two goal scorers emerged to give them what they needed in Game 7

Can you win a Stanley Cup Final if your top two goal scorers who combined for 91 goals in the regular season and 17 in the first three playoff rounds score only two in the biggest series of all?

The Panthers don’t have to answer that. They can’t answer that. Because in the most important game of the season, the most important game in the history of the franchise, left wing Carter Verhaeghe and right wing Sam Reinhart provided all the goal-scoring offense the Panthers would need in Monday’s 2-1 Game 7 win.

“There’s so much that goes through your head just kind of relief. it feels so good to win the way we did,” Verhaeghe said of the last few seconds.

READ MORE: The Panthers win their first ever Stanley Cup with a 2-1 Game 7 win over Edmonton

Verhaeghe, who scored the first goal of the series, struck for the first time since then 4:27 into the game to put the Panthers up 1-0. In the second period, Reinhart’s goal at 15:11 not only climaxed a marvelous whistle-free six minutes of hockey but stood up as the Cup winner.

“The last 12 days what we’ve been through is excruciating at times,” Reinhart said. “We’ve learned an incredible amount. Thank God we had four cracks at it.”

As the Panthers tumbled from a 3-0 series lead through Games 4, 5 and 6, the absence of Reinhart and Verhaeghe from the scoresheet went from glaring to indictment. Reinhart racked up 57 goals in the regular season, the most in a season by a Panther not named Pavel Bure, and eight goals in the first three playoff series. Verhaeghe, scorer of series-winning overtime goals in 2022 and 2023, had 34 in the regular season and nine in the first three rounds.

Verhaeghe looked hesitant in the offensive zone. Reinhart’s shot seemed to have GPS set for 6-4 Edmonton goalie Stuart Skinner’s pads.

But Monday, Verhaeghe hung around the net as a Panthers power play ended and Evan Rodrigues gathered the puck along the left boards. With Warren Foegele coming out of the box, Rodrigues made the only reasonable play, throwing the puck on net, where Verhaeghe redirected it home.

In the second period, Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov skidded into the goal while swatting a loose rebound into the corner before Dylan Holloway could knock it into a yawning net. While Kulikov started to emerge from the net, Verhaeghe fired the breakout pass to Reinhart. Reinhart got into the right circle and fired between Skinner’s legs for a 2-1 Panthers lead.

“Lot of speed from [Verhaeghe], Barky and him went to the net,” Reinhart said. “Skinner’s been playing unbelievable. We tried to make it a little bit hard on him tonight.”

Reinhart is a free agent this year, a good time to have a 57-goal season.

But, on the Amerant Bank Arena ice, amidt the plastic rats and in the ecstasy waves of Stanley Cup victory, he said, “I don’t want to leave. This is unbelievable. This is a great feeling. Best place in the league to play in my opinion.”