The Florida Panthers seem to do their best work with their backs against the ropes.
Down 2-0 in the series and 2-1 late in the third period, the Cardiac Cats got a goal from Matthew Tkachuk to send Game 3 to overtime, where they’d win it thanks to heroics from Carter Verhaeghe.
The win shortened the Panthers to +220 to win the Stanley Cup.
They are -125 favorites for Game 4.
(8 p.m. ET)
While Game 3 had plenty of the hallmarks of a great Stanley Cup Playoff battle, it also was a pretty strange contest.
Normally we see the referees keep their whistles in their pocket as we get deeper into a series and the games become more desperate, but that wasn’t the case on Thursday night.
There were 11 penalties called in Game 3, including a dubious tripping call on Gustav Forsling with 12 seconds left in regulation.
This after the Panthers handed the Knights 11 power plays in their losses in Vegas.
History tells us that refs begin to put the whistles away more and more as we get deeper into a Stanley Cup Playoff series and I’d expect that to start to happen.
Both teams will want to play with more discipline than they showed in Game 3, too.
A more disciplined effort would be a huge step forward for the Panthers, as they are showing pretty well at 5-on-5.
Vegas did not find the back of the net at 5-on-5 in Game 3 and Florida put forth a strong effort at even strength in Game 1, too.
Another encouraging note for the Panthers is that Sergei Bobrovsky seemed to find his game after a couple of off nights — his first two of the Stanley Cup Playoffs — in Vegas.
If Bobrovsky is back on song, the Panthers have every chance to drag this series into the deep end of the pool.
While the first two games saw a lot of defensive breakdowns and chances to build offense off the rush, that all seemed to slow down a bit in Game 3.
These two teams seem to be getting used to the idea of playing one another and adjusting to strengths and weaknesses.
That often leads to less time and space on the ice.
The numbers backed that up as there were only 50 combined shots on goal in the game despite the 11 power plays.
It would not be shocking to see Game 4 play out similarly to Game 3, only with fewer power plays.
That should make offense even tougher to come by and make it hard for any team to run away in a rout.
That should, in turn, keep the 60-minute draw in play all night, just as it did on Thursday.
60-minute draw (+320, Caesars Sportsbook)