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Stanley Cup Final Game One: Welcome to the Big Time

Turner Sports' first-ever Stanley Cup Final sees the Vegas Golden Knights overcome the Florida Panthers' momentum in Game One

By Clyde E. DawkinsPublished 4 months ago 5 min read

For the first time in five years, we are guaranteed a first-time Stanley Cup Champion. The Vegas Golden Knights and the Florida Panthers face off in this year's Stanley Cup Final, with each team looking to win the Cup for the very first time. This is the second Final appearance for each team; Vegas is currently in their sixth season of play, while Florida's last appearance came in 1996. Speaking of Florida, this is the fourth straight year that the Sunshine State is represented in the Cup Final, with the Tampa Bay Lightning reaching the Final during the last three years. It's somewhat reminiscent of the province of Alberta dominating the Cup Final between 1983 and 1990.

We also have another first this year: this is the first time that Turner Sports is airing the Stanley Cup Final. Turner and ESPN's deal with the NHL began during the 2021-22 season, and part of this arrangement includes both sides taking turns airing the Cup Final. Last year, ABC aired the Final, and now, it's Turner's turn, and they have really been drinking this in and promoting the fact that they'll be airing the Cup Final. In the U.S., the entire Final will be simulcast on all of Turner's networks: TNT, TBS, and TruTV. Though it's a first for Turner, it's not a first for most of their staff, as a lot of them are from the old NBC crew, and NBC aired the Cup Final every year from 2006 until 2021.

As for Game One, the atmosphere in Vegas was raucous, and we saw Michael Buffer welcoming fans to the Cup Final. However, once the puck dropped, it was a quiet start, and Florida had a few of the games first shots. By the near heart of the third period, the shots were even at three, and a scrumm in the Vegas net resulted in a power play for the Knights (I don't know how, but OK). So Vegas got their PP, but it would be the Panthers who struck first. Eric Staal scores shorthanded after receiving the pass from Anton Lundell, and just like that, it's 1-0 Panthers. The Golden Knights-hater in me was happy to see them behind after a shortie, but the LGBT ally in me was slightly sickened over the fact that confirmed homophobe Eric Staal scored that goal...and on Pride Month, too.

Eric Staal's goal came at 9:40, and right after killing the Vegas power play, they got one of their own, but resulted in nothing. Florida continued to dominate in shots, until Vegas received another power play. This time, Vegas scored on it, it was one of the team's "original six" players, Jonathan Marchessault--his 10th goal of the 2023 playoffs. The assists came from Chandler Stephenson and Shea Theodore (another of the team's original players), and after 20 minutes, the game was tied at one.

Side note: the Vegas "original six" refers to the six remaining players from that first year: Marchessault, Theodore, William Karlsson, William Carrier, Brayden McNabb, and Reilly Smith. Vegas' momentum continued in the second period; Adin Hill thwarted Nick Cousins' attempt at a go-ahead goal, which had Leafs fans (most likely going), "Oh, now he misses the net..." After Cousins missed the net, Theodore didn't. He put the Knights ahead for the first time in this game, and here's another fun fact, it was Shea Theodore who scored the Knights' first-ever playoff goal in 2018. It looked like Vegas would head to the locker room with a lead, but on the faceoff, with just under 11 seconds left, it was Anthony Duclair who tied the game.

It was 2-2 after 40, and it looked like the momentum would shift back to the Panthers. Boy, was that not the case. Zach Whitecloud gave Vegas the lead back at 6:59 into the third, and then it was Mark Stone at 13:41. The Panthers became immensely frustrated, to the point where they wanted Vegas' heads...literally. And this was during a Vegas power play, at that! All of that resulted in Matthew Tkachuk, who was invisible for the whole game, receiving a four minute penalty, plus a ten-minute misconduct. His night was over. Vegas ended up on the power play for a good bit of the remaining time in regulation, but Sam Reinhart had a good shorthanded chance stopped by Adin Hill. Sergei Bobrovsky was pulled, but Vegas ended up sealing it; an empty-netter from Reilly Smith at 18:15.

The Vegas Golden Knights took Game One by a score of 5-2, so they've won Game One in both of their Cup Final appearances. Shea Theodore had a goal and an assist, while Jack Eichel (in his first-ever Cup Final appearance) had two assists in the third period. Florida ended up outshooting Vegas 35-34, but they really racked up the PIMs (penalty minutes). Matthew Tkachuk and Carter Verhaeghe were total non-factors; no points, each were -1, and Tkachuk had 14 PIMs. That third period was absolutely awful for the Panthers, and as a result, they are still looking to win a Cup Final game for the first time, as their only other appearance saw them swept by the Colorado Avalanche.

Game Two is Monday in Vegas.

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About the Creator

Clyde E. Dawkins

I am an avid fan of sports and wrestling, and I've been a fan of female villains since the age of eight. Also into film and TV, especially Simpsons and Family Guy.

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