July 21, 2024

Panthers’ Sergei Bobrovsky gets pulled after allowing 5 goals in Stanley Cup Final Game 4

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Paul Maurice had seen enough after Sergei Bobrovsky allowed his fifth goal in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, deciding to pull the Florida Panthers goaltender who was the biggest reason the team is one win from a championship.

Bobrovsky allowed five on 16 shots, and his coach thought it was high time to give him a rest and put backup Anthony Stolarz in five minutes into the second period. Stolarz allowed three more in the Panthers’ 8-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night that sends the series back to Florida for Game 5.

“If you think you’re mounting a comeback, rarely does the goalie make a difference for you: There’s something that happens at the other end of the ice,” Maurice said. “He’s played an awful lot of hockey. My number on Bob’s probably five (goals allowed) in general. That was the decision.”

Bobrovsky had stopped 82 of the 86 shots he faced through the first three games of the final and is, along with captain Aleksander Barkov, a leading candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. He allowed more goals in 25 minutes of this one than the rest of the series combined, leading to derisive taunts of “Sergei! Sergei!” from the home crowd.

“Everyone is human,” Oilers forward Zach Hyman said. “You have to keep going, have to keep getting your looks and eventually something is going to go in. Obviously we got good looks tonight and were able to beat him.”

Bobrovsky was not at his best, but neither were the Panthers players in front of him. Mattias Janmark’s short-handed goal three minutes in came on a 2-on-1 rush, and there were plenty of other mistakes that contributed to giving Edmonton so many good looks that they cashed in on.

It was not great ‘Bob,’ but teammates were quick to take the blame off Bobrovsky for getting the hook.

“He’s been unbelievable all year, all playoffs,” forward Matthew Tkachuk said. “It was more of a wake-up call to everybody. We know he’s going to come back better than ever and, with that being said, none of them were his fault. I still thought he made some unreal saves.”

Stolarz, who coincidentally was taken with the 2012 second-round pick Philadelphia got for trading Bobrovsky more than a decade ago, made 16 saves in his NHL playoff debut.

“He was good,” Maurice said. “The guy’s watched a lot of hockey for a while. That’s what you need. He comes in and he’s going to battle his butt off. It was great for him to get in. There are not a lot of silver linings here, people, but ‘Bob’ got some rest. I’ll take that.”

There’s very little rest to come for the Panthers, who have another chance to close out the series and hoist the Stanley Cup in Game 5 back in Sunrise on Tuesday night.

“There’s many things we can do a lot better,” Barkov said. “We probably got outworked. They got too many rush chances. I think we’ve always been good in defending rushes and I think they got some rush chances that we really need to not give up. But obviously the game’s over now. All we need to do is just recover and think about the next one.”

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