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The Florida Panthers have done what no one saw coming : they’ve reached the Stanley Cup final, eliminating the Carolina Hurricanes in a 4-game sweep on Wednesday night.
When the defeated Canes lined up for the traditional handshake, you could tell it was hard on them. Especially for Jordan Staal, who not only was called on a tripping penalty in the last minute of the game, but also because he knew he was not the Staal moving to the Stanley Cup final.
That did not prevent him from giving his two older brothers some heartfelt hugs when he crossed them in the handshake line after the final buzzer. Marc is the only one of Eric and Jordan not to have won a Stanley Cup. It's easy to see that Jordan now wants it for him.
The Panthers were presented the Prince of Wales Trophy and right away, the game hero Tkachuk touched the silverware. Aleksander Barkov followed and the rest of the team joined it to celebrate and bring the trophy back with them to the dressing room.
They can proudly carry that around, they have earned it! This is a great underdog story for the Panthers, who entered the playoffs in last place and beat out not only the President Trophy-winning Boston Bruins, but also got the best of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second round.
Florida now awaits the winner of the Western final conference matchup between the Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars. Vegas currently leads the series 3-0 and could imitate the Panthers by sweeping the Stars on Thursday night.
They have now reached the Stanley Cup final for the first time in franchise history. And… they could go all the way.