Matthew Tkachuk #19 of the Florida Panthers shoots the puck for the game winning goal against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)
By Alain Poupart / NHL.com Independent Correspondent
May 24, 2023
SUNRISE, Fla. — Matthew Tkachuk scored a power-play goal with 4.9 seconds left in regulation to send the Florida Panthers to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1996 with a 4-3 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final at FLA Live Arena on Wednesday.
Tkachuk scored his second goal of the game when he curled out into the low slot and shot past the blocker of Frederik Andersen, who was tied up by the stick of Brett Pesce and Sam Bennett. The Situation Room initiated a review to determine if there was goaltender interference on the play, but the call stood after a video review.
Tkachuk’s goal came after Jesper Fast tied it 3-3 with 3:22 remaining on a one-timer off a backhand pass from Jordan Martinook from below the goal line.
Aleksander Barkov had two assists, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 36 saves for the Panthers, who are the second wild card from the East.
Florida will play the Vegas Golden Knights or Dallas Stars in the Final. Vegas leads that best-of-7 series 3-0 with Game 4 on Thursday.
Aleksander Barkov #16 of the Florida Panthers skates off the ice with the Prince of Wales Trophy after their 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the FLA Live Arena on May 24, 2023 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)
Paul Stastny and Teuvo Teravainen scored for the Hurricanes, who were the No. 1 seed from the Metropolitan Division. Andersen made 20 saves.
Carolina defenseman Jaccob Slavin left the game 1:23 into the first period with an upper-body injury. Forward Stefan Noesen missed the final 14 minutes of the first period and all of the third because of an upper-body injury.
Anthony Duclair gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead 41 seconds into the game. His initial one-timer from below the right circle hit off the post and landed in between Andersen’s pads. Andersen, who did not know where the puck was, then got up to scramble back into his crease, and Duclair picked up the rebound along the goal line and roofed a shot before Brady Skjei could skate around the net and break it up.
Tkachuk made it 2-0 at 10:23 with a power-play goal. Aaron Ekblad‘s pass deflected off the stick of Shayne Gostisbehere and the leg of Brent Burns to Tkachuk, who scored five-hole on Andersen from in front.
Stastny cut it to 2-1 at 13:03, knocking in a rebound in the crease after Skjei’s one-timer deflected off the post and settled behind Bobrovsky.
Teravainen tied it 2-2 at 2:51 of the second period. Skjei’s shot from the left point broke the stick of Colin White and deflected to Teravainen, who scored blocker side from the right hash marks.
Ryan Lomberg scored his first of the playoffs to put Florida back in front 3-2 at 9:49. Following a turnover just inside the Carolina’s blue line, Eric Staal sent a spinning pass to White, who tried to tuck the puck past Andersen’s left pad but lost it to Lomberg, who jammed it into the net.
Post Game Notes
* Matthew Tkachuk scored to put the Panthers ahead at 19:55 of the third period, matching the NHL record for latest series-clinching goal in regulation. Tkachuk equaled a mark set by Nick Metz during Game 6 of the 1942 Semifinals when he scored to put Toronto ahead 3-2 against the NY Rangers (and also secured a spot in the Stanley Cup Final).
* Matthew Tkachuk became the second player in franchise history with a series-clinching goal to send Florida to the Final, joining Tom Fitzgerald in Game 7 of the 1996 Conference Finals. Fitzgerald is the father of Tkachuk’s teammate, Casey, who has appeared in five contests with the Panthers this season including Game 4 of the First Round.
Source: nhl.com, NHLStats Resources