Knights lead series 2-0
■ Game 1 — Knights 5, Panthers 2
■ Game 2 — Knights 7, Panthers 2
■ Game 3 — 5 p.m. Thursday, FLA Live Arena (TNT, TBS, truTV)
■ Game 4 — 5 p.m. Saturday, FLA Live Arena (TNT, TBS, truTV)
* ■ Game 5 — 5 p.m. June 13, T-Mobile Arena (TNT, truTV)
* ■ Game 6 — 5 p.m. June 16, FLA Live Arena (TNT, TBS, truTV)
* ■ Game 7 — 5 p.m. June 19, T-Mobile Arena (TNT, TBS, truTV)
* If necessary
RJ’s three stars
3. Knights forward Brett Howden — He capped the scoring in the third period with his second goal.
It was the second time this postseason Howden has scored twice in a game.
His first goal came as he drove hard to the net and took a pass from Mark Stone, made a move and beat Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.
Howden added a power-play goal in the final three minutes.
2. Knights forward Jack Eichel — The star center turned in his now customary stellar defensive effort and had two assists, including a beauty to Jonathan Marchessault to free him for a third-period goal.
But just the fact that he was able to finish the game was the real victory for the Knights.
Eichel took a massive hit from Matthew Tkachuk as he started to stumble to the ice in the center of the rink near the blue line.
The Knights star immediately went to the locker room as his teammates rallied to his defense and penalties were sorted out.
Fans went wild when Eichel returned to the ice after the second intermission.
1. Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault — The hot streak continues for one of the original Knights.
Marchessault scored two goals and has 10 in his past nine games. He also had an assist.
After opening the scoring with a power-play goal 7:05 into the game, he scored less than two minutes after Florida scored early in the third period to make sure the Panthers couldn’t gain any momentum.
Marchessault has recorded at least one point in seven straight games and has 11 in that span. He also has 17 points in his past 10 games.
Adin Hill’s save on a breakaway at 4:12 of the first period
While the final score was lopsided, the Panthers had the first great scoring chance.
Carter Verhaeghe got behind the defense and skated in on Hill all alone, making two dekes before trying to slip a backhand past the goaltender.
Hill barely budged and easily corralled the puck to keep the game scoreless.
One goal might not have mattered to the final score, but the rest of the night could have played out differently had the Knights fallen behind.
Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky entered the Stanley Cup Final as the betting favorite to win the Conn Smythe Award as the playoff MVP.
He didn’t even make it through half of Monday’s game before he allowed four goals and was pulled in favor of Alex Lyon.
Bobrovsky allowed just six goals on 174 shots in the Eastern Conference Final against the Carolina Hurricanes in a total of 321:05 on the ice. He’s already surrendered eight goals on 46 shots against the Knights in 86:56.
It was the fifth time in the past 12 games the Knights have chased the opposing goaltender.
“What I saw was a clean check on me. It’s a physical game. You’re going to get hit sometimes. You just kind of move on. It was a big hit, but I came back in (the locker room), regrouped and was fine. It was definitely a big collision. I got my wits back about me and realized I was fine, and just kind of moved on from there.”
— Eichel, on the second-period hit he took from Tkachuk
“I just came off the bench and saw him (in) the middle of the ice with his head down, and it doesn’t matter who you are, you shouldn’t be going through the middle with your head down. You’re gonna get hit. I would get hit, too, if I had my head down in the middle. It’s nothing, it’s not a big deal. He’s a really good player, and really good players can get hit, too.”
— Tkachuk, on the hit that temporarily knocked Eichel out of the game.