South Florida's NBA team, the Miami Heat, were home underdogs in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night and it didn't go well for them as they fell to 1-2 in the series. The region's NHL team, the Florida Panthers, hosts the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Thursday looking to avoid a 3-0 hole. There's heavy action on Vegas at BetMGM and on Knights star winger Jonathan Marchessault to find the net. Click here for model picks.
Eleven different franchises have taken a 3-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final (as Vegas is trying to do) in a total of 28 instances. The only team to join the NHL since the start of the 1980s (like Vegas) that has taken a 3-0 series lead in the Final is Tampa Bay, which it won in five against Montreal in 2021.
Florida is the slight -120 favorite but taking only 26% of the bets and 33% of the money at the book. On the total of 6 goals, 71% of the bets and 70% of the money is on the Over.
No surprises with either of those leans, considering the Knights have been by far the better team in this series with wins of 5-2 and 7-2 at home. The goals scored were most through two games in the Final since 1982. Vegas also led the West in points during the regular season, and Florida had the fewest points of all 16 playoff teams.
The Panthers wouldn't be in the Final without Sergei Bobrovsky, who had been so good in the previous three rounds after taking over for Alex Lyon. Yet Bobrovsky has been downright terrible in this series and has been pulled from both games. He'll start again on Thursday. Don't be surprised if the Russian is pulled, though, if he allows a bad goal.
Adin Hill didn't open these playoffs as the Vegas starer in net, taking over in Game 3 of the second round, but has had a .930 save percentage or higher in both games so far. He'll try to become only the third goaltender since 1955-56 to have three straight such games in his first career Final.
Hill is now a +500 third favorite for the Conn Smythe Trophy. The leader is Marchessault, who has 12 goals (second among all players) and 21 points in these playoffs (fourth). The former Panther can become the 10th player in the past 50 years to score in each of the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final – a feat only Pittsburgh's Jake Guentzel (2017) and Detroit's Steve Yzerman (1997) accomplished in the past 35 years.
Marchessault as the game's first goal scorer (+950) and as an anytime goal scorer (+125) are two of the most-wagered player props tonight at the sportsbook, along with Florida's Matthew Tkachuk as the first goal scorer (+850) and an anytime goal scorer (+105); and Vegas' Jack Eichel as first goal scorer (+1050). Eichel has six goals in these playoffs and Tkachuk has 10.
Tonight is the 27th anniversary of the first-ever Stanley Cup Final game played in Florida, which was Game 3 in 1996 vs. Colorado. The Avs swept, so Florida has still has never won a Cup game. The Panthers are trying to become the fifth team in NHL history to win multiple best-of-seven series in one year after facing a multi-game deficit in each.
On the updated series line, Vegas is -500 and Florida is +400, but still only 37% of the bets are on the team up 2-0. This is the fifth time Florida has faced a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-7 series all-time. It has never won such a series, but did rally from a 3-1 defecit this year vs. Boston. Teams with a 2-0 series lead in a best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final go on to hoist the Cup 90.6% of the time (48-5).
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