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NHL Morning Skate: Stanley Cup Playoffs Edition – May 23, 2023

Matthew Tkachuk factored on another game-winning goal in the Eastern Conference Final as the Panthers opened up a 3-0 series lead and moved within one win of the franchise’s second-ever berth in the Stanley Cup Final.

Sergei Bobrovsky earned his NHL-leading 10th win of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs and did so thanks to his first career postseason shutout in his 58th playoff start.

* The Stars and Golden Knights will contest Game 3 of the Western Conference Final on ESPN, ESPN+, Sportsnet, CBC and TVA Sports when the puck drops at American Airlines Center.



TKACHUK’S FIRST SEASON WITH PANTHERS HAS CLUB ONE WIN AWAY FROM FINAL
Matthew Tkachuk (0-1—1) assisted on the only goal of the contest and Sergei Bobrovsky turned aside all 32 shots he faced as the Panthers opened up a 3-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Final. Florida now sits one victory away from securing their second berth in the Stanley Cup Final in franchise history (4-0 L in 1996).

* The Panthers, who also opened up a 3-0 series lead against the Maple Leafs in the Second Round, became the first team in NHL history to enter a postseason as the lowest-seeded team and own multiple 3-0 leads in a best-of-seven series that same playoff year.



* The Eastern Conference Final became the fifth Conference Finals/Semifinals series in NHL history to feature each of the first three games conclude with neither team owning a two-goal lead at any point. The others: 2002 Conference Finals (3 GP: CAR vs. TOR), 1995 Conference Finals (3 GP: DET vs. CHI), 1938 Semifinals (3 GP: TOR vs. BOS) and 1933 Semifinals (3 GP: TOR vs BOS).

Tkachuk has now factored on three game-winning goals this series (2-1—3). The only players in NHL history to record a point on all four game-winning tallies in the penultimate round of the playoffs are Yvan Cournoyer (1-3—4 w/ MTL in 1976), Mike Bossy (4-0—4 w/ NYI in 1983), Ray Bourque (1-3—4 w/ BOS in 1988), Wayne Gretzky (2-2—4 w/ LAK in 1993) and Ondrej Palat (2-2—4 w/ TBL in 2022).

* Tkachukboosted his 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs totals to 7-12—19 (15 GP) and sits one point away from becoming the seventh player in the past decade with 20 or more points in his first postseason with a franchise. He would join Ryan O’Reilly (23 in 2019 w/ STL), Reilly Smith (22 in 2018 w/ VGK), Jonathan Marchessault (21 in 2018 w/ VGK), Jake Guentzel (21 in 2017 w/ PIT), Phil Kessel (22 in 2016 w/ PIT) and Marian Gaborik (22 in 2014 w/ LAK).



MAN ON A MISSION: SERGEI BOBROVSKY
Sergei Bobrovsky (32 saves) picked up his NHL-leading 10th win of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs despite only making his first start of the postseason in Game 4 of the First Round against the 65-win Bruins.

* Bobrovsky, making his 58th career playoff start, became the third goaltender in franchise history to record a postseason shutout and the oldest netminder at the time of his first career playoff shutout since Tim Thomas (35 years, 340 days in Game 5 of 2009 CSF), who also achieved the feat against Rod Brind’Amour and the Hurricanes.



* Bobrovsky has made 132 saves against the Hurricanes and surpassed Johnny Bower (125 saves in 1960 SF vs. DET) for the most saves by a goaltender through the first three games of a Conference Final/Semifinals series (since 1955-56).

ICYMI: On the night the Panthers joined the Miami Heat (NBA) as the second team from the state of Florida to take a 3-0 lead in their Conference Finals series – and both doing so after entering the postseason as the lowest-seeded team in their conference – the Stanley Cup and Larry O’Brien Trophy met alongside the Commissioner’s Trophy (MLB) and the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy (MLS) for lunch at Katz’s Delicatessen in New York City on Thursday.



QUICK CLICKS

Golden Knights know ‘series is still far from over’ heading into Game 3

Joe Pavelski‘s quiet leadership needed for Stars in Game 3 of West Final
State Your Case: Stars comeback chances entering Game 3 of West Final

Stanley Cup visits Indianapolis Motor Speedway during Indy 500 qualifiers
NHL Productions wins 2023 Sports Emmy for ‘Outstanding Edited Event Coverage’



STARS, GOLDEN KNIGHTS SET FOR GAME 3 AT AMERICAN AIRLINES CENTER
The Stars aim to cut the Golden Knights’ series lead in half when they return home for Game 3 of the Western Conference Final on ESPN, ESPN+, Sportsnet, CBC and TVA Sports. The Stars franchise has overcome a 2-0 series deficit to win a best-of-seven once previously – the 1968 Quarterfinals, when the Minnesota North Stars rallied past the Kings to earn their first-ever series victory. Vegas, meanwhile, is 2-0 all-time when it takes a 3-0 series lead (2020 R1 & 2018 R1).



Miro Heiskanen scored in Game 2 and has 10-33—43 in 62 career postseason games. He can surpass Ray Bourque (11-32—43 in 42 GP) and Denis Potvin (16-27—43 in 42 GP) for the third-most playoff points among NHL defensemen before age 24 – Paul Coffey (32-50—82 in 67 GP) and Cale Makar (15-45—60 in 55 GP) rank first and second, respectively.

* Vegas overcame a deficit to win for the fourth straight game and eighth time in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs with the help of Chandler Stephenson’s overtime winner. Should they do so again Tuesday, the Golden Knights would become just the eighth team in NHL history with nine or more comeback wins in a single playoff year, following the 2022 Avalanche (10), 2009 Penguins (10), 2020 Stars (9), 2006 Hurricanes (9), 1999 Stars (9), 1980 Islanders (9) and 1971 Canadiens (9). Six of those seven teams went on to win the Stanley Cup, with Dallas (4-2 L in 2020 vs. TBL) standing as the only exception.


* Just like the Panthers and Hurricanes, the Golden Knights and Stars are also engaged in a tightly-contested series and have required overtime in each of their first two games. The 2023 Conference Finals are already the first in NHL history to have each of the first four games during the penultimate round of the postseason decided by a one-goal margin – the previous benchmark was three (1932, 1945 & 1960).

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