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Sergei Bobrovsky, Panthers blank Hurricanes, close in on finals

May 22, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) makes a save behind defenseman Josh Mahura (28) and Carolina Hurricanes right wing Jesper Fast (71) during the first period in game three of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky posted his first career playoff shutout and the Florida Panthers moved one victory away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final by claiming a 1-0 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday in Sunrise, Fla.

Sam Reinhart scored in the second period for the Panthers, who hold a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

The goal was enough offense thanks to yet another sparkling performance by Bobrovsky, who made 32 saves.

Frederik Andersen stopped 16 shots for the Hurricanes, who have lost 11 straight Eastern Conference finals games and are on the verge of being swept for a third consecutive time in a conference final.

The Panthers, who have reached the Stanley Cup Final once in franchise history (in 1996), will look for the sweep when they play host to the Hurricanes for Game 4 on Wednesday.

Bobrovsky has been a brick wall all series, having stopped 132 of 135 shots through the three games. He showed his form early with a glove save on Stefan Noesen’s breakaway chance, made a sprawling blocker save on Sebastian Aho early in the second period and a clutch pad save on a Seth Jarvis redirection late in the middle period. For good measure, he stopped all 11 shots he faced in a one-sided third period while his team clung to the lead.

The Hurricanes also rang a couple of shots off the iron.

Bobrovsky’s save total is the most ever within the first three games of a conference final or Stanley Cup semifinal, breaking the mark of 125 set by Johnny Bower for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1960.

The Hurricanes had all the momentum through the first half of the second period, but Reinhart opened the scoring at 10:05 of the frame. With Florida on a power play, Reinhart set up in the slot and upon taking a short pass, spun and zipped a shot inside the far post for his seventh goal of the playoffs.

Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Bennett assisted on the tally.

The win came at a cost, however. Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov left the game for good midway through the first period after he was on the receiving end of a check from Jack Drury. It appeared to be an innocuous-looking hit along the boards, but Barkov sustained a lower-body injury.

Barkov has collected four goals and 12 points in 15 playoff games.

–Field Level Media

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