The feeling of winning a championship is something all athletes at any level dream of. Winning the Stanley Cup is among the greatest accomplishments in professional sports and the Florida Panthers are in the early stages of their celebrations after winning Game 7 on Monday.

The Panthers avoided a monumental collapse in the Stanley Cup Final, winning the series 4-3 after leading 3-0. Florida got contributions from almost every skater with 15 players registering a point during the seven-game series.

Leading the Panthers with seven points during the Stanley Cup Final was 30-year-old center Evan Rodrigues. The first Evan to get his name etched on the Cup, Rodrigues simplified his explanation of winning such an iconic championship.

“They say it's the hardest trophy to win in sports, and you can't imagine how hard it is until you do it,” Rodrigues said, per Greg Wyshynski. “Getting to Game 7, it took pressure off of us, and we did it the hard way. But it was a perfect outcome.”

The undrafted veteran was on his third team in as many years despite being very productive. Rodrigues averaged 40 points per game over the last three seasons. He scored 15 points in 24 playoff games this year, playing less than 15 minutes per game.

“I can’t say it’s been easy, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world,” Rodrigues said postgame, per Sportsnet.

Evan Rodrigues has found a home with the Panthers and will look for more success in the remaining three seasons of his four-year contract.

Panthers grind out historic Game 7 win

Florida Panthers celebrate winning against the Edmonton Oilers in game seven of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final at Amerant Bank Arena.
Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

An Oilers win in Game 7 would have been historic for the 3-0 collapse that proceeded. The Panthers stealing that glory from the Oilers doesn’t remove us from history though as Florida becomes Stanley Cup champions for the first time.

The Panthers are the first team to win the Cup after losing the previous season since the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins. They're also the second team after the Dallas Stars to win their first championship in their third attempt.

The name of the series early on was Florida's ability to limit Edmonton's offensive chances. The Oilers scored four goals across the first three games but roared back with 18 goals in the next three.

After Edmonton scored seven minutes into the first to tie Game 7, Florida again did well defensively and put goalie Sergei Bobrovsky in great positions all night. The 35-year-old netminder saw the most shots and recorded his most saves since Game 3, stopping 23 of the 24 shots he faced.

Bobrovsky earned the first star of the game and many believe he should have won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the postseason MVP. Instead, the honor went to Connor McDavid after the Oilers captain recorded 42 points, the fourth most in a single Stanley Cup Playoffs. McDavid became the sixth player to win the award in defeat.

Both teams have a quick turnaround for the offseason with the draft this weekend in Las Vegas. The Panthers will do plenty of celebrating, but it's probably good for the Oilers to get their minds off the loss quickly and retool for another run next season.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are consistently among the best postseasons in all of sports. This year's playoffs did not disappoint and even when the finals looked to be done and dusted with a sweep, the Oilers forced a decisive seventh game that delivered one-goal drama until the very end.

The Panthers got the last laugh and are now the team to beat in the NHL next season.