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Panthers shut out Hurricanes in Game 3 to take commanding 3-0 conference finals lead

SUNRISE — No overtime needed.

After two consecutive overtime wins to start the Eastern Conference finals, the eighth-seeded Panthers beat the Carolina Hurricanes 1-0 in Game 3 at FLA Live Arena on Monday night, putting Florida on the verge of clinching the franchise’s second-ever trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

Winger Sam Reinhart scored the game’s deciding goal eight seconds into a second-period power play, scoring from point-blank range past Carolina goalie Frederik Andersen with 9:55 remaining in the period.

However, the victory was dampened by an injury to star center Aleksander Barkov, who left the game with 7:04 remaining in the first period and did not return. The Panthers listed him as questionable with a lower-body injury.

Although the Hurricanes out-shot the Panthers 32-17 and edged out Florida on faceoffs, goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky made the difference. The veteran goaltender continued his run of excellent form in the playoffs, saving all 32 shots that came his way, including a breakaway opportunity from Carolina winger Stefan Noesen. Late in the second period, he blocked a shot that was inches from the goal line with the edge of his left skate.

The defense in front of Bobrovsky helped as well, blocking 21 shots as the Hurricanes peppered the Panthers with shot attempts.

The Panthers’ previous three games — all victories — went to overtime, including a four-overtime marathon in Game 1 against the Hurricanes last Thursday. But Florida clinched its Game 3 win — its fourth consecutive playoff victory — in regulation Monday.

Monday’s win was the first Eastern Conference finals game held at FLA Live Arena. When the Panthers reached the penultimate playoff round for the first time in 1996, they played at Miami Arena. With the victory, Florida improves to 3-3 at home in the playoffs, and the Panthers and will have an opportunity to punch its ticket to the Stanley Cup Final at home on Wednesday night.

This story will be updated.


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