NHL playoffs: Perfect Bobrovsky
If the Panthers were to go all the way in these playoffs, they would owe it in large part to the masterful outfit of Sergei Bobrovsky.
Monday night, in a rarely bustling FLA Live Arena, the 34-year-old keeper stopped all 32 shots he faced. A perfect evening which, combined with the goal scored by Sam Reinhart on the power play, allowed the Panthers to win 1-0 and take a serious option on this Eastern Conference final which pits them against the Hurricanes of Carolina.
Leading 3-0 in this matchup, the Floridians are just one win away from reaching the Stanley Cup final for the first time since 1996.
While not have ever had more than a goal difference in this series, the chances of the Hurricanes turning things around are slim.
At the risk of repeating ourselves, only four teams in the whole history of the NHL managed to close such a gap before winning the series.
In the minds of the Canes
If Sebastian Aho doesn't speak Russian yet, he will have to quickly learn it since he may encounter Bobrovsky in his nightmares.
With the shield, the blocker and even the mask, Aho has seen the Panthers keeper frustrate him in every way imaginable.
The 34-year-old masked man also seems to have entered the minds of all of the Finn's teammates. To give an idea, at five against five, the Hurricanes forwards have not hit the target in the last 349 min 10 s.
Bobrovsky set a record by fending off 130 pucks in the first three games of the conference semi-final or final round. The old mark of 125 belonged to Johnny Bower of the Maple Leafs. Mark he had established in 1960 against the Canadian.
In addition to giving nothing, Bobrovsky got help from his teammates who block the center of the territory well. Rarely have the Hurricanes been able to get a returnable shot.
Moreover, the troop of Paul Maurice spent much more time defending themselves than attacking the net of Frederik Andersen, who found his position after being left out in the second game. The Panthers fired just two shots in the third period and seven in the final 40 minutes.
The Panthers managed to put the Hurricanes in the cables even without the services of Aleksander Barkov for much of the evening. The center of the Florida first line was limited to six appearances.
He left the game with just over seven minutes to go in the first period, following a seemingly innocuous check by Jack Drury.
The Panthers announced that Barkov suffered a lower-body injury. Possibly knee high.
◆ The Panthers will have the opportunity to be the first team to qualify for the final on Wednesday night.
1Premiè re periodNo goalPenalties: Ekblad (Flo) 9:36, Noesen (Car) 9:36, Lomberg (Flo) 14:55, Staal (Car) 17:51 Second period1-Flo: Sam Reinhart (7 )(Tkachuk, Bennett) AN-10:05Penalties: Skjei (Car) 9:57, Aho (Car) 11:22, Martinook (Car) 13:02 Third periodNo goalsPenalties: NoneShoots on goalCaroline 7 – 14 – 11 – 32 Florida 10 – 5 – 2 – 17Goalkeepers: Coach: Frederik Andersen (P, 5-2) Flo: Sergei Bobrovsky (G, 10-2)Powered Advantage: Car: 0 for 1, Flo: 1 for 4Referees:Kelly Sutherland, Trevor HansonLinesmen:Steve Barton, Kiel MurchisonASSIST: 19,873