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The Eastern Conference Final began on Thursday night, and the Florida Panthers took a 1-0 series lead. The Panthers scored a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory in what was an excellent start to this matchup.

After winning the Metro Division, the Hurricanes dispatched the New York Islanders in the first round. Going up against a high-powered New Jersey Devils team in the second round, Carolina’s excellent team defense and depth scoring took over. The Canes eliminated the Devils in just five games, outscoring them by a total of 24-13.

The Panthers barely made the playoffs this season, but they quickly made their presence known. Florida overcame a 3-1 deficit against the heavily favored Boston Bruins to win the series in seven games. Once they got past the Bruins, the Panthers extinguished Stanley Cup hopes in Toronto by defeating the Maple Leafs in five games in their second-round matchup.

Tkachuk has been the unquestioned leader of the Panthers throughout their playoff run, and he has turned in some brilliant performances. Tkachuk has 16 points in 12 games, and neither the Bruins nor the Maple Leafs found a way to contain him. If Florida is going to get past a deep Carolina team, the supporting cast must continue to chip in alongside Tkachuk.

Through the first two series, for Carolina, defensemen Brent Burns and Jaccob Slavin have been the biggest stars. Carolina has completely dominated games with those two on the ice, earning a plus-10 goal differential. That pairing will face its biggest test of the postseason when it faces a red-hot Matthew Tkachuk in the conference finals.

Follow along with everything you need to know about the Eastern Conference Finals, including the schedule and results, right here.

*if necessary

Game 1

  • Panthers 3, Hurricanes 2 (4OT)
  • The first game of the Eastern Conference Final is in the books, and it was a thrilling way to start the series. The Florida Panthers pulled out a 3-2 win in quadruple overtime to take a 1-0 series lead over the Carolina Hurricanes.

    With just 12 seconds left in the first period, Seth Jarvis got the Hurricanes on the board first with a bullet of a power play goal, and the pendulum began to swing from there. The Panthers took a 2-1 with two goals in the second period, but that lead didn’t last long. Stefan Noesen beat Sergei Bobrovsky early in the third period to even the score at 2-2.

    Just a few minutes into overtime, it looked like Ryan Lomberg had won the game for Florida. He fired a shot into a wide open net, but officials ruled that Panthers forward Colin White had interfered with Frederik Andersen. After that ruling, it would be a while until the puck even sniffed the goal line.

    With just 12.7 seconds remaining in the fourth overtime, Matthew Tkachuk capitalized on a Hurricanes turnover to end the sixth-longest game in NHL history.

Game 2

  • Date: Saturday, May 20 | Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
  • Location: PNC Arena — Raleigh, North Carolina
  • TV: TNT

Game 3

  • Date: Monday, May 22 | Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
  • Location: FLA Live Arena — Sunrise, Florida
  • TV: TNT

Game 4

  • Date: Wednesday, May 24 | Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
  • Location: FLA Live Arena — Sunrise, Florida
  • TV: TNT

*Game 5

  • Date: Friday, May 26 | Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
  • Location: PNC Arena — Raleigh, North Carolina
  • TV: TNT

*Game 6

  • Date: Sunday, May 28 | Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
  • Location: FLA Live Arena — Sunrise, Florida
  • TV: TNT

*Game 7

  • Date: Tuesday, May 30 | Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
  • Location: PNC Arena — Raleigh, North Carolina
  • TV: TNT

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