Golden Knights lose Game 3, 3-2, in OT to Panthers

The Florida Panthers cut the Vegas Golden Knights' Stanley Cup Final series lead in half by winning Game 3, 3-2, in overtime.

Death. Taxes. The Florida Panthers in overtime.

Florida improved to 7-0 in overtime during the NHL Playoffs after Carter Verhaeghe scored the game-winner 4:27 into the extra frame to lift the Panthers past the Vegas Golden Knights, 3-2, and back into the Stanley Cup Final.

The Panthers fell into an 0-2 series deficit after getting thumped 5-2 in Game 1 and hammered 7-2 in Game 2, both in Las Vegas.

But Florida didn’t come out looking like the team that left Las Vegas, but rather the team that seemingly breezed through the first three rounds with wins over three of the top four Eastern Conference seeds.

They trailed the Boston Bruins 3-1 before winning three straight to win the first round. They knocked off a high-scoring Toronto team in the second round, holding the Maple Leafs to two goals in each of the five games in the series. Then, they swept the East’s preseason favorite Carolina Hurricanes

Thus, it was inevitable that we’d see the Panthers win a game in the Stanley Cup Final, behind the play their postseason stars Matthew Tkachuk, who tied the game with 2:13 left in regulation, and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who stopped 25 shots.

While Vegas was probably the better team overall on Thursday, Bobrovsky was the best player on the ice, keeping the Panthers in the game with timely saves.

Bobrovsky improved to 4-0 in home games this postseason that immediately followed a road game.

And just like that, as Florida improved to 9-1 in one-goal games this postseason, we have a series.

Game 4 is scheduled for Saturday, with Game 5 returning to Las Vegas on Tuesday.

“I thought we were doing a log of things correct,” Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We just couldn’t get the next one to put the nail into the coffin. You gotta give them their share of credit. In overtime, you never know.”

On the contrary, as fans in Sunrise know what overtime has meant when the Panthers engage.

“We’re the Cats,” Verhaeghe said. “We have whatever lives we have, but it’s awesome. It shows how great our team is and the guys on our team have no quit in them.”

Brandon Montour also scored for the Panthers, the first goal of the game just 4:08 into the first period.

Vegas got goals from Mark Stone and Jonathan Marchessault, while netminder Adin Hill made 20 saves. It marked Marchessault’s 13 goals in the last 13 playoff games.

“Overall I thought we played a pretty solid game,” Stone said. “They’re a resilient team. We gotta bounce back and get ready for the next one.”

History is certainly on Vegas’ side, as 44 of the previous 55 teams to lead 2-1 at this point of the Cup Final, have hoisted the trophy.

“Nobody said it’s gonna be easy,” Vegas forward Jack Eichel said. “Every game is the most important game of the season.”