Matthew Tkachuk’s 4.6-second goal completed the Panthers’ sweep of the Hurricanes to earn a trip to the Stanley Cup


Matthew Tkachuk scored a power-play goal with 4.9 seconds left, Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 36 shots to end a brilliant series, and the Florida Panthers earned their first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 27 years by beating the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 on Wednesday night. to win the Eastern Conference title by a sweep.

Tkachuk’s goal was his second of the night—and possibly the biggest in Panthers history. The Panthers will play either Vegas or Dallas for the Stanley Cup starting next week; Vegas currently leads the Western Conference title series 3-0.

The Panthers scored 10 goals in the series, and Bobrovsky made sure it was all they needed. Four games, four one-goal wins, three of which came from Tkachuk in dramatic fashion — two in overtime to end Games 1 and 2, and this one capped Florida’s stunning comeback from 8th seed to Eastern champion.

Ryan Lomberg and Anthony Duclair had other goals for Florida, which swept the series for the first time in franchise history.

Panthers after sweep

The Florida Panthers pose with the Prince of Wales trophy after winning Game 4 of the NHL Eastern Conference Stanley Cup Hockey final against the Carolina Hurricanes, Wednesday, May 24, 2023, in Sunrise, Florida. (AP photo/Lynne Sladky)

Jordan Staal – his brothers Eric and Marc played for the Panthers – took a tripped penalty with 57 seconds left in regulation, setting up a power play that Tkachuk completed.

Jesper Fast looked like he might have saved the season for Carolina, earning the tying goal with 3:22 left in regulation. Paul Stastny and Teuvo Teravainen scored the first two goals of the night for the Hurricanes, while Brady Skjei and Jordan Martinook each contributed two assists.

But the night, the series, belongs to the Panthers. They were swept by Colorado in the 1996 final.

The tone is set in advance. Duclair scored 41 seconds into the contest, and less than a minute later Florida’s Sam Bennett hit hard but clean, meaning no penalty was handed down to Carolina’s Jaccob Slavin behind the Hurricanes’ goal.

The towels waved, the strobe lights flashed, and fans wasted no time in letting the Panthers know they were ready to make the cut.

Panther celebrating goal

Ryan Lomberg #94 of the Florida Panthers celebrates with his teammates after scoring to Frederik Andersen #31 of the Carolina Hurricanes during the second period of Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the FLA Live Arena on May 24, 2023 in Sunrise, Florida . (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)


Tkachuk made it 2-0 with a power play midway through the first set. Carolina, the division championship winning team with 113 points in the regular season made it 2-1 later on Stastny’s first goal, and Teravainen tied it early in the second.

Lomberg’s goal midway through the second half gave Florida another lead. It remained that way until Fast leveled with 3:22 left, and then Tkachuk finished by sending the Panthers to the title game in his first season.


Panthers general manager Bill Zito was announced Wednesday morning as the finalist for this year’s NHL GM. Tkachuk’s two goals gave him 21 points in the playoffs extending his Florida single-season postseason streak, which was 17 by Dave Lowry in 1996. Slavin was quickly ruled out for the remainder of the game after Bennett’s streak, with what the Hurricanes said was an “upper body injury.” ” Slavin staggered as he tried to stand up. Miami Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel, who was also a game regular for the Miami Heat during their playoff run this spring, beat the drums before the game. When finished, with no microphone to drop, he dropped the hammer instead.

Florida Panthers celebrating sweeps

Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov holds the Prince of Wales trophy after the Panthers won Game 4 of the NHL Eastern Conference Stanley Cup Hockey final against the Carolina Hurricanes, Wednesday, May 24, 2023, in Sunrise, Florida. (AP photo/Lynne Sladky)


Tkachuk’s goal midway through the opening period put Florida 2–0 up and marked the first time, in nearly 14 periods of play up to that point, that a team had gone two goals up in the series. Every action came with either a draw or someone ahead by one in the first 272 minutes (including all overtime) of the draw.

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