Stanley Cup Final: Panthers win Game 7 thriller over Oilers to secure first championship in franchise history

Edmonton star Connor McDavid wins Conn Smythe in defeat

For the first time in history, the Florida Panthers are Stanley Cup champions.

Florida won a 2-1 Game 7 thriller on Monday night over the Edmonton Oilers to secure a 4-3 series victory in the Stanley Cup Final. The win staved off a historic collapse after the Oilers rallied from a 3-0 series deficit to tie the series at 3-3.

After allowing 18 goals in consecutive losses in Games 4-6, Florida's defense returned to form Monday night anchored by a stellar performance from goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who turned back 23 of 24 Edmonton shots, including a late Oilers flurry that threatened to tie the game.

Edmonton's Connor McDavid secured the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the entire Stanley Cup playoffs despite his team's loss. He's the sixth player in NHL history to win the award from a losing team and the first since Jean-Sebastien Giguere of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003. He's the second skater to ever win in a losing effort, joining Reggie Leach from the 1976 Philadelphia Flyers.

McDavid led the playoffs with 42 points and set an NHL record previously held by Wayne Gretzky with 34 playoff assists. But the Panthers stifled McDavid and the rest of the Oilers offense in Monday's decisive Game 7.

The Florida home crowd rained down boos upon the Conn Smythe announcement, but found plenty of reason to cheer when Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov hoisted the Stanley Cup for the first time in his 11 seasons with the franchise.

The first period got off to a scorching start. The Panthers secured the game's first power play on a high-sticking penalty by Warren Foegele less than three minutes in. It didn't directly convert to a power-play goal, but Florida's Carter Verhaeghe broke the scoreless tie seconds after it ended.

Just as Edmonton went back to full strength, Florida's Evan Rodrigues fired a slap shot from the left wall that missed the net wide right. But Verhaeghe knocked the puck from the air with his stick and snuck it past Stuart Skinner for a 1-0 Florida lead.

The goal with 15:33 left in the period gave Florida its first lead of the series since it finished Game 3 with a 4-3 win. It was short-lived.

Just 2:17 later, Edmonton's Mattias Janmark tied the game on a breakaway goal on a sensational assist from Cody Ceci.

After a Florida turnover, Ceci corralled the puck behind the Edmonton goal line then fired it up ice through three Florida defenders. Janmark secured the pass ahead of the Florida blue line and attacked the net without a defender in his way. He deked Bobrovsky and sent a wrist shot into the left side of the net.

The goal tied the game at 1-1 and piled on to a trend that plagued the Panthers as the Oilers rallied to tie the series from a 3-0 deficit. The goal was the fifth straight for Edmonton in the series on breakaway opportunities. It turned out to be its last.

Edmonton's opportunities dried up as the game went into the second period tied at 1-1. The Oilers controlled the puck through much of the second, but struggled to convert that control into scoring chances. Then, 15-plus minutes into the period, the Panthers turned an Oilers scoring opportunity into one of their own.

Foegele threatened a 2-1 Oilers lead with a shot from the right goal line on a crowded net. But Florida's Dmitry Kulikov poked the puck away, and the Panthers secured it to go on the attack. Center Sam Reinhart converted the opportunity on the other end with a slapshot from the right wing that found the back of the net for a 2-1 Panthers lead, sending an eager Florida home crowd into a frenzy.

The second period ended without another goal, and the Panthers entered the third period with history on their side. Teams leading Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final after two periods had won 13 times in 14 previous chances. The Panthers had won 25 straight games when leading after two.

Sam Reinhart celebrates what turned out to be the Stanley Cup-winning goal in the second period. (Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Sam Reinhart celebrates what turned out to be the Stanley Cup-winning goal in the second period. (Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Bobrovsky and Florida's defense ensured that the Panthers wouldn't break the trend. A unit that defined the series en route to a 3-0 lead was back in control. The Panthers limited looks for McDavid and continued to keep All-Star Leon Draisaitl (zero goals in Stanley Cup Final) in check throughout much of the third period.

Then McDavid's best scoring chance arrived with 7:05 left in the game. But he lost control of the puck directly in front of the net, and the Oilers failed to get it past Bobrovsky.

Edmonton ramped up the pressure on Bobrovsky in the final minutes of regulation, but couldn't break through despite multiple late chances.

The Oilers pulled Skinner in the game's final moments to no avail. Florida held on to celebrate a Stanley Cup championship on home ice. The win denied a chance for the Oilers to claim Canada's first title since the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup in 1993.

Florida was the more physical team in Game 7 while tallying 30 hits against Edmonton's 19. The Panthers secured a 17-13 edge in blocked shots and a 12-7 advantage in takeaways. It was a fitting finish for a Panthers team that allowed the fewest goals in the league during the regular season.

The win is the first in three trips to the Stanley Cup Final for the Panthers since their inception in 1993-94. They first played for the Cup in 1996, their third year in the NHL, but were swept by the Colorado Avalanche. They made it back last season, the first under head coach Paul Maurice, but fell to the Vegas Golden Knights in five games. The championship is the first for Maurice in his 26 seasons as a head coach in the NHL.

The Panthers didn't experience any sort of hangover this season after a long 2023 playoff run. They improved by 10 wins and 18 points to win the Atlantic Division title and finish third in the Eastern Conference during the regular season.

In the playoffs, the Panthers knocked off the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games and the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers in six games to reach the Cup Final against the Oilers. Now they're Stanley Cup champions for the first time.

Game 1: Panthers 3, Oilers 0
Game 2: Panthers 4, Oilers 1
Game 3: Panthers 4, Oilers 3
Game 4: Oilers 8, Panthers 1
Game 5: Oilers 5, Panthers 3
Game 6: Oilers 5, Panthers 1
Game 7: Panthers 2, Oilers 1

  • Aleksander Barkov is the first player to hoist the Stanley Cup for the Florida Panthers, and he hands it off to Sergei Bobrovsky.

  • Connor McDavid wins the Conn Smythe trophy

  • "It's not a dream anymore," Matthew Tkachuk said after the game on the ESPN broadcast. "It's reality."

  • The celebration begins in Florida.

  • Florida Panthers win the Stanley Cup!

    It's the first Cup in franchise history for the Panthers.

  • Via NHL stats: There have been 14 tying goals in the final 10 minutes of any potential Stanley Cup-clinching game (last: Pat Maroon at 53:48 in Game 4 of 2021 SCF). The latest was by Maple Leafs forward Tod Sloan (59:28 in Game 5 of 1951 SCF).

  • Oilers can't capitalize on an incredible chance in front of the net.

  • The Oilers' penalty kill does its job, denying the Panthers after an Evan Bouchard high-sticking penalty on Eetu Luostarinen.

  • Via NHL stats: There have been only two game-tying goals in the third period of a Game 7 in Stanley Cup Final history: Sweeney Schriner at 7:47 of the third period for the 1942 Maple Leafs and by Murray Armstrong at 8:16 of the third period for the 1945 Red Wings. Schriner’s 1942 Maple Leafs won, while Armstrong’s 1945 Red Wings lost – both in series that were forced to a Game 7 after one team took a 3-0 series lead.

  • According to NHL stats, teams that take a lead into the third period of Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final are 13-1 all-time.

  • End 2nd period: Panthers 2, Oilers 1

    The Panthers now lead thanks to Sam Reinhart's goal late in the second period, and Florida owns the advantage over the Oilers 17-15 in shots on goal.

  • Panthers take a 2-1 lead

    After some impressive control by Edmonton, the Panthers' Sam Reinhart gives his team an edge with just under five minutes remaining in the second period.

  • Edmonton heads to the power play after a questionable tripping call on Tkachuk, but they ultimately come up empty.

  • End 1st period: Oilers, Panthers tied up 1-1

    The Panthers' Carter Verhaeghe struck first to put the home team ahead, but the Oilers' Mattias Janmark had an answer just a couple minutes later to knot things up at 1. Florida has a slight shots-on-goal advantage over Edmonton, 7-6. That's where we sit at the end of the first period.

  • Are we having fun yet?

  • And the Oilers tie it up!

    It didn't take long for Edmonton to respond, with Mattias Janmark evening it up 1-1.

  • Carter Verhaeghe gets the Panthers going

  • Panthers strike first on the power play to go up 1-0


  • Alanis Morrisette sings the anthems

  • This postseason, 88.5% of games have been decided by a one-goal margin or two goals with an empty net tally — the highest such percentage in a playoff year in NHL history.

    (via NHL Stats)

  • Full Game 7 lineups

  • Panthers went from -3000 odds to win Stanley Cup to a coin flip in 9 days

    Here are how the odds on the Panthers to win the Stanley Cup have shifted since the start of the Stanley Cup Final:

    Before Game 1: -130 (bet $130 to win $100)

    Before Game 2: -250

    Before Game 3: -550

    Before Game 4: -3000

    Before Game 5: -1200

    Before Game 6: -350

    Before Game 7: -110

    When the Oilers and Panthers started Game 4 on June 15, Florida led the series 3-0 and you would have had to bet $3,000 to win $100. The implied odds of a -3000 favorite winning are 96.7%, and that seemed low for a team up 3-0 in a playoff series.

    When the Stanley Cup odds were first released before the season, the Panthers were +1800 to win it all. When the playoffs started, they were +700. There wasn't a ton of faith in the Panthers — only 4.6% of bets were on Florida to win it all — but those who held any Panthers tickets had to feel really good about it after Florida went up 3-0. And now those bets are 50/50. The Oilers and Panthers have matching -110 odds to win Game 7 at BetMGM.

    Read more here.

  • If the Stanley Cup were decided on fan volume alone, we'd have a clear winner (small sample size!).

  • Home-ice advantage? Maybe not for the Panthers.

  • Oilers, Panthers ready for historic Game 7: 'It’s not your ordinary game'

    The Edmonton Oilers or the Florida Panthers will lift the Stanley Cup on Monday night following Game 7 (8 p.m. ET; ABC). It will be a historic achievement no matter the result: a first-ever championship for the Panthers or a completed series comeback by the Oilers that has not been seen in the Stanley Cup Final since 1942.

    The Oilers have already made history. They are the first NHL team since the 1944-45 Detroit Red Wings to fall behind in the Cup Final 3-0 and force a Game 7. Win on Monday night and they join the 1941-42 Toronto Maple Leafs as the only teams to finish the job.

    “It’s not your ordinary game, everybody understands that, but you’ve got to make it as ordinary as possible in your head,” Oilers captain Connor McDavid said on Sunday. “Our room has done a great job of being at our best in these big moments, and I would expect no different.”

    After the Panthers’ 4-3 victory in Game 3, it seemed as if Florida would eventually be crowned champions. They were in complete control of the series and the Oilers had no answers. Even after Edmonton’s 8-1 rout in Game 4 to stave off elimination, it was thought that the Panthers would rebound and close it out in Game 5 at home.

    But they did not. The series got away from the Panthers and the Oilers woke up, including McDavid, who recorded eight points during victories in Games 4 and 5. Now he’s helped bring the franchise to the game every young hockey player dreams about.

    Read the full story here.

  • Prediction time

    Oilers 3, Panthers 1

    Check out our Game 7 preview here, plus a breakdown of NHL teams that have forced a Game 7 after going down 3-0.

  • Panthers looking to stifle Oilers' comeback

  • Is history in the Oilers' favor?

    Are the Edmonton Oilers about to pull off a historic feat Monday in Game 7 (8 p.m. ET; ABC) of the Stanley Cup Final? The Florida Panthers are hoping to finally win the fourth game of the series after failing in their previous three tries, including Friday's 5-1 defeat at Rogers Place.

    It remains to be seen if the Oilers can complete the series comeback after being down 3-0, but they've already made history by forcing a Game 7.

    Edmonton became the 211th team in NHL history to fall behind 3-0 in a best-of-seven playoff series. By winning Game 6 they became only the 10th team to ever climb all the way back and force a Game 7 — something that hasn't happened in a decade.

    But just winning three games in a row to force a do-or-die Game 7 isn't an automatic sign you're going to win the series. Only four of the previous nine series that occurred have resulted in the trailing team coming back to win the all-important fourth game — and it has happened only twice since 1975 and just once in the Stanley Cup Final.

    Click here for more on those other nine series and how the trailing teams ended up faring.

  • The Stanley Cup has spoken