The Golden Knights have dominated this series so far. In game one, it started tight. Eric Staal scored short-handed but Vegas answered back with a power play goal from Jonathan Marchessault. Shea Theodore gave Vegas the lead, but Anthony Duclair tied it again. Then the floodgates broke open. Vegas scored three times in the third period to take a 5-2 victory. Game two was not a contest. Vegas scored off another Marchessault power play goal in the first and then scored one more in the period followed by two in the second to give them a 4-0 lead. Anton Lundell made it 4-1, but Marchessault scored again and closed the door on a comeback. The game would end 7-2. Now the Panthers hope to make another major comeback, just like they did against Boston.
Here are the Golden Knights-Panthers NHL odds, courtesy of FanDuel
Stanley Cup Final Odds: Golden Knights-Panthers Odds
Las Vegas Golden Knights: +1.5 (-245)
Florida Panthers: -1.5 (+198)
Over: 5.5 (-140)
Under: 5.5 (+114)
How To Watch Golden Knights vs. Panthers Stanley Cup Final
Stream: TNT App
Time: 8:00 PM ET/ 5:00 PM PT
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Why The Golden Knights Could Cover The Spread
Adin Hill has been fantastic in this series. In game one, he saved 33 of 35 shots for a .943 save percentage, and in game two it was more of the same. He saved 29 of 31 shots for a .935 save percentage. Since getting his first start in game four of the Edmonton series, Hill has been on fire. In 11 starts he has a .932 save percentage and has been below .910 just twice. Both of those games resulted in a loss for Vegas. If Hill is his normal stellar self, it will be very difficult for the Panthers to beat him.
Jonathan Marchessault also needs to continue his great work. In the two games so far he has three goals and an assist. Marchessault has been amazing all playoffs long. He has scored 12 times and has nine assists in the playoffs. His 21 points so far in the playoffs rank him fourth overall. He is one point behind teammate Jack Eichel. Eichel is having a stellar series as well. He has two assists in each game, giving him four on the series. Two of those assists have come on the power play as well.
The power play has been a big reason for the success of the Golden Knights in this series. Vegas has scored two power-play goals in both games this series, going four of 11 overall. Meanwhile, they have shut down the power play for the Panthers. Florida is 0-7 on the power play in this series. Even more, they are not getting quality opportunities to score on the power play. The Panthers are being shut down in most aspects of their game right now, and if Vegas keeps that up, it will be another win for them.
Why The Panthers Could Cover The Spread
The Panthers are giving way too many power play opportunities. They have 130 penalty minutes on the series and have been given 11 power play opportunities in just two games. The Panthers star Matthew Tkachuk is a big part of that. While physical play is a major part of his brand, he needs to pull it back some and focus on staying on the ice, not getting ejected again. Tkachuk will need be helping get this offense back on track in game three. He did score a goal in game two of the series but was held scoreless in the first game of the series.
Meanwhile, Carter Verhaeghe has disappeared. Second on the team in points in the playoffs, Verhaeghe does not have a single point in the series. He has a minus-three rating and has only managed to get six shots on the net in the two games. The same can be said for Aleksander Barkov. He has five shots on goal in the series, but also currently does not have a single point. If this trio can get back to what got them to this point, another miracle is possible for the Panthers.
Then there is the man who went into this series favored to win the Conn Smythe. Sergei Bobrovsky has been terrible in this series. In game one, he saved 29 of 33 shots, good for a .879 save percentage. He fell apart in game two though. He allowed four goals in just over 27 minutes, and on just 13 shots. He was pulled for Alex Lyon, who was not much better. He let in three goals on 15 shots for a .800 save percentage. If Florida cannot figure out their goalie situation, this series will be ending quickly.
Final Golden Knights-Panthers Prediction & Pick
Florida has been here before and it seems that Paul Maurice knows what buttons to press to get things to turn around. Maurice has never won the cup though. He has been to the cup finals just once, losing to the Red Wings as the Hurricanes coach in 2002. The Hurricanes lost four straight games after winning the first one of the series. Since 1917, only Lindy Ruff has had more wins than Maurice without winning the Stanley Cup. This game will come down to the power play overall. If the Panthers can figure out how to slow down the Vegas man advantage, while scoring their own, they will win. Still, even if they do win, expect it to be close with how Hill is playing in goal.
Final Golden Knights-Panthers Prediction & Pick: Vegas +1.5 (-245) and Over 5.5 (-140)