Vegas Golden Knights vs. Florida Panthers: Stanley Cup Final Game 4 preview

The Florida Panthers got on the board in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, but will the Vegas Golden Knights strike back in Game 4?

This Stanley Cup Final series started with one of the most dominant home performances for a finals team.

The Vegas Golden Knights were nothing less than spectacular at home and it made this one of the hardest, best-shooting, toughest-played Stanley Cup series starts in recent memory. The Florida Panthers have been doing everything they can to stay alive. Home teams are now 11-1 in series home openers in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Will that change in Game 4 in Florida? The fate of the Stanley Cup may depend on it.

Vegas Golden Knights vs. Florida Panthers, Game 4: Stanley Cup Final preview

Florida escapes Vegas in series home opener

After a blowout 5-2 loss in Game 1 and a 7-2 loss in Game 2, the Florida Panthers went home to host Game 3. Florida has been one of the best home teams in the NHL this season with a 28-18-5 record at home. They have amassed 51 points on 153 goals. They’ve managed a 77.2% penalty kill and scored on 24.4% of their power plays. That means the Panthers have scored 63 power-play goals in the 276 opportunities they’ve had.

To add to those great numbers, the Panthers are the No. 1-ranked team for shots on goal per game. They average a staggering 36.8 shots per game, which is important because when facing this tough Vegas defense you need to continue to pound the net. Vegas has only allowed two goals in regulation to Florida this entire series.

Florida currently 6-1 straight up against Vegas when playing at home. The Panthers took down the Golden Knights in Game 3 with a 3-2 overtime victory. Florida’s sixth-ranked overall offense did just enough to take down this red-hot Vegas offense. Carter Verhaeghe scored the winner for Florida 4:27 into overtime bringing the Panthers playoff overtime record to an incredible 7-0. Matt Tkachuk continues to do his part as he tries to tie this series for the Panthers.

The Panther’s defense had struggled badly so far in this series against Vegas. Florida lost Game 1, 5-2, and Game 2, 7-2, before finally taking down the Knights 3-2 in overtime. That was expected though because home teams have dominated in the playoffs and Florida has especially dominated at home all season long. The Panthers give up an average of 3.27 goals per game to their opponents, which is good for just 21st in the NHL.

Vegas has been able to take advantage of their subpar defense and if Florida isn’t careful, they will return to that in Game 4. Vegas has been punishing them all over the ice and if they lose Game 4, I believe this series will end in five games when it goes back to Vegas.

Vegas can still punish in a loss

Vegas lost Game 3, but everyone knew that was going to happen (I think even Vegas did). The Golden Knights still controlled most of Game 3 even in the loss while Florida’s defense finally kept the Vegas offense in check.

The Knights defense still continued to control the Panthers again only allowing two goals in regulation. They have kept the Panthers to just two goals in regulation in all three Stanley Cup games so far. Vegas has the sixth-best defense in the NHL giving up just 2.75 goals per game to opponents. This defense has continued to be stellar throughout the entire playoffs not just in the Stanley Cup.

Vegas’ offense was finally held in check by the Panthers. I don’t think it happens again as they have really been terrific so far in this series and I expect them to continue to roll in Game 4. The Golden Knights have been getting help from all over the ice. Their wins have truly been a team effort as they have seen goals from nine different players. They’ve even had three goals from three defensemen. The Vegas defense had scored that many goals in the first three rounds, so you can see the Vegas game plan includes everyone in the Stanley Cup final.

Vegas center Ivan Barbashev has also been at an extremely high level. He is currently tied for third on the team with 17 points but what’s even better is that he has been on the scoresheet in four straight games and in eight out of the last 10.

Vegas Golden Knights will return to winning ways

Florida got their one win. This Golden Knights team has been dominant not just to start the series, not just in the playoffs, but for the entire season. They get help from all over the ice with every player going above and beyond to dominate this Panthers team.

The Golden Knights will get back to pouring it on Florida. If Vegas wins Game 4 in Florida, they will finish the series in five games, winning the Stanley Cup in Vegas.

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