SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 23 shots, Sam Bennett and Vladimir Tarasenko scored, and the Florida Panthers are headed to the Stanley Cup Final for the second consecutive year after beating the New York Rangers 2-1 on Saturday night.

The Panthers — who lost the final to Vegas last year — won the Eastern Conference Final in six games. Florida will face either Edmonton or Dallas for the Cup, the title series set to start on June 8.

Artemi Panarin scored with 1:40 left and Igor Shesterkin stopped 32 shots for the Rangers, who had a 2-1 lead in the series — then lost three straight, costing them their season. It was New York’s longest losing streak since mid-January and means that, for the 11th consecutive year, the team that finishes with the NHL’s best regular season record won’t go on to win the Stanley Cup.

If Edmonton — which leads the West final 3-2 — advances, Game 1 of the title round will be on Florida’s ice. If Dallas wins the West, the Stars will have home-ice advantage for the title series. The Oilers can clinch that series on Sunday night.

Florida will play for the Stanley Cup for the third time. The Panthers were swept by Colorado in 1996 and lost 4-1 to Vegas last season. It’s also the third time in the final for Panthers coach Paul Maurice, who lost with Carolina in 2002 and then with Florida last year.

Maybe the third time is the charm for them both.


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