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Sergei Bobrovsky leads Florida Panthers to Game 1 victory - ESPN

SUNRISE, Fla. — For the first time in franchise history, the Florida Panthers have a lead in the Stanley Cup Final. They have Sergei Bobrovsky to thank for it.

The Panthers goaltender shut out Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers in Game 1 on Saturday night, 3-0. He took on the Oilers' explosive scoring talent — and their dominant power play — and stopped all 32 shots he faced, as jubilant Panthers fans chanted «Bobby!» in his honor.

«It's fun to play against those guys, those elite guys,» Bobrovsky said. «They are a great offensive team. They bring a good challenge.»

There had been 15 previous shutouts in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, the last one coming in 2011 by Vancouver Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo, who is now a member of the Panthers front office. Bobrovsky is the oldest goalie (35 years, 252 days) to record a shutout in a Stanley Cup Final Game 1.

The Oilers outshot the Panthers 32-18, including a 12-4 advantage in the first period. For the majority of the 2024 postseason, Bobrovsky hasn't faced the same kind of shot volume that he did in Florida's run to the Stanley Cup Final last season. That wasn't the case in Game 1 as the Oilers had 32 shots on 70 shot attempts. He handled the increased shot volume perfectly.

«He's just been unreal. His preparation is incredible. He's everything that you want in a teammate and especially a goalie,» forward Matthew Tkachuk said. «He was there for us tonight.»

Florida built their lead in each period. They took a 1-0 lead on Carter Verhaeghe's 10th goal of the postseason at 3:59 of the first period, converting an Aleksander Barkov pass to send the home fans into an early frenzy.

«He's an unusual performer, that man,» coach Paul Maurice said of Verhaeghe. «He can raise