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Fantucchio’s Focus: Panthers advance to Cup Final, Benn suspended for two games



.Good Morning, my name is Andrew Fantucchio. It’s Thursday, May 25, and here’s what I’m focused on around the NHL today.

Panthers headed to Stanley Cup Final: 

The Florida Panthers are moving on to the Stanley Cup Finals after sweeping the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Final.

Matthew Tkachuk staked his latest claim to be this year’s Conn Smythe Trophy winner when he gave Florida a 4-3 lead with 4.9 seconds remaining in the third period of Game 4 at FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, FL. The game-winning goal was Tkachuk’s third of the series and came on the power play after Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal was called for a controversial tripping penalty with under a minute to play.

The goal was immediately placed under review, but the NHL’s Situation Room did not find any conclusive evidence of goaltender interference on the play.

The Panthers will make their first Stanely Cup Finals appearance since 1996 and await to meet either the Vegas Golden Knights or the Dallas Stars.

Vegas Golden Knights vs. Dallas Stars Game 4:

The Golden Knights and Stars will resume the Western Conference Finals tonight, with Game 4 of the series emanating from American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX. Vegas holds a commanding 3-0 series lead and can advance in the postseason with a win.

Game 4 will air on ESPN with puck drop set for 8 p.m. EST.

Jamie Benn Suspended for Two Games:

After being ejected from Game 3 of the series on Tuesday, Stars captain Jamie Benn was handed a two-game suspension by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for cross-checking Vegas’ Mark Stone.

“Unfortunate play,” Benn said on Wednesday before being suspended. “I think I just need to be more responsible with my body and my stick. The game happens fast, emotions are high, and obviously, I would’ve liked to not fall on him and use my stick as a landing point.”

Benn will miss what could be the deciding game of the Western Conference Final with his team on the brink of elimination tonight as well as Dallas’ next game, whether it be a subsequent Game 5 or the first game of next season.

Okposo re-signs with Buffalo: 

Kyle Okposo has re-signed with the Buffalo Sabres on a one-year, $2.5 million contract after serving as the team’s captain this past season.

Okposo left the New York Islanders and signed with the Sabres as a free agent back in 2016 on a seven-year deal.

More from National Hockey Now: 

Colorado: Nikolai Kovalenko is fearless for the Avalanche

Washington: Sandin day-to-day following collision at IIHF World Championships

Calgary: New Flames GM ‘won’t be at odds’ with whoever is picked as the team’s new head coach

Nashville: How will Johansen respond after being called out by Barry Trotz?


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