4 Takeaways From Hurricanes’ Game 4 Loss, Swept By Panthers

The Carolina Hurricanes‘ postseason run has come to an end. They were swept by the Florida Panthers in four games in Round 3 of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They were defeated in Game 4 by a 4-3 score, the game-winner coming off of the stick of Matthew Tkachuk.

Florida Panthers Prince of Wales Trophy 2023
The Florida Panthers pose with the Prince of Wales Trophy after defeating the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 4 to win the Eastern Conference Final of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

It was Tkachuk’s third game-winning goal of the series. Sergei Bobrovsky continued his torrid run and looks to be the Conn Smythe Trophy favorite. The Hurricanes threw everything they could at the net but in the end, a costly penalty in the dying minutes of the game was the difference in this contest.

Matthew Tkachuk Again

For the third time in the Eastern Conference Final, Tkachuk scored the game-winning goal. He did so in dramatic fashion: on the power play with less than five seconds left in the third period. It was Tkachuk’s second goal of the game, displaying his ability to elevate his play in a big game situation.

Matthew Tkachuk, Florida Panthers
Matthew Tkachuk, Florida Panthers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

This caps off an incredible Round 3 performance from the forward, with four goals and an assist in four games to help his team advance to the Stanley Cup Final. He also threw 13 shots on goal with 10 hits to round out some nice statistics. With three game-winners in a single series, he joins some elite company with the likes of Joe Pavelski, Sidney Crosby, Peter Forsberg and Nikita Kucherov. Only one NHLer has scored four game-winners in a single series, Mike Bossy in 1982-83.

Bobrovsky for Conn Smythe

Bobrovsky is stopping everything that comes his way. Despite three goals being scored on him, he still finished with a .923 save percentage in Game 4. Stopping 36 of 39 shots is no easy task, but Bobrovsky has risen to the occasion over the course of these playoffs.

Related: Draisaitl & Tkachuk Lead Early 2023 Conn Smythe Trophy Race

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He has cemented his case as the Conn Smythe Trophy favorite with his play in this series. His save percentages for each of the four games were .969, .974, 1.00, and .923. Only six goals snuck past him in that time, three during the final contest (Game 4). Alex Lyon started the first three games of the playoffs versus the Boston Bruins. Since Lyon was pulled in Game 3 of Round 1, they’ve only lost two games with Bobrovsky in the crease. The last loss came at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 4 of Round 2.

Hurricanes Go Down Swinging

The Hurricanes did not go down easily, throwing 39 shots on goal. The Panthers played great defence blocking another 24 shots. After only registering nine shots in the first period, the Hurricanes stormed back with 30 shots across the final two frames.

Sergei Bobrovsky Florida Panthers
Sergei Bobrovsky of the Florida Panthers makes a save against Jack Drury of the Carolina Hurricanes during the first period in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs (Photo by Cato Cataldo/NHLI via Getty Images)

They kept fighting back, first by tying the game 2-2 three minutes into the second period. The Panthers would go up 3-2 before the end of the second period. Then Jesper Fast scored the 3-3 goal with under four minutes left. This team did not quit when their backs were against the wall.

Costly Penalty At End of the Game

With less than a minute left in the third period, Jordan Staal was called for a tripping penalty in the offensive zone. This killed any momentum the Hurricanes could have had going into a potential overtime. Staal is one of the Hurricanes’ best penalty killers, which made his penalty an even bigger blow to the team. Ultimately, this would be the straw that broke the camel’s back, as Tkachuk’s power play goal would seal the fate of the Hurricanes.

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The Hurricanes made it to the Eastern Conference Final without Max Pacioretty or Andrei Svechnikov. They came together as a team to get through the first two rounds of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. But in the end, they came up against a hot goaltender and a better team.