The NHL Stanley Cup finals are entering the real business end of the series as the Vegas Golden Knights travel to take on the Florida Panthers in Game 3 later this week.
Vegas lead the series 2-0 after back-to-back home wins early in the season, but the Eastern Conference champions will be hoping to get themselves on the board in front of their home crowd to keep the series alive and take the finals as far as possible.
We'll take a look at game three and provide you with our best free NHL betting picks to see if we can earn you some extra cash from the series ahead of the summer.
|Stanley Cup Finals Game 3|
|Vegas Golden Knights||+111||+105||+101|
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Vegas Golden Knights v Florida Panthers Game 3 information
- Thursday, June 8th 2023
- FLA Live Arena, Miami, Florida
- 20:00 ET
- Vegas Golden Knights lead series 2-0
NHL Stanley Cup Finals 2023 series so far
Game 1 in the T Mobile Arena saw the Western Conference Champions play host in their first Stanley Cup finals series in over five years, and they claimed a huge win to open the series.
The first period was tight and the teams scored one goal each, with Florida taking an early lead inside the opening ten minutes thanks to a goal from Eric Staal. Vegas were able to equalize through Jonathan Marchessault before the end of the period to get themselves back in the game.
Shea Theodore gave Vegas the lead, before Anthony Duclair levelled the game with ten seconds left of the second period, before the Golden Knights really put their foot on the pedal and claimed the win thanks to goals from Reilly Smith, Mark Stone and Zach Whitecloud.
Game 2 was expected to be a closer game, but it was the opposite as Vegas just blew them away to take a huge lead.
The team took a 2-0 lead in the first period thanks to Marchessault and Alec Martinez, and then doubled their lead in the second period to have a 4-0 lead heading into the final period thanks to Nicolas Roy and Brett Howden.
The third period was more entertaining but also a closer affair as Anton Lundell pulled one back to make it 4-1, with Marchessault got his second of the game and third of the series to make it 5-1. Michael Amadio then got in on the act to make it 6-1 before Matthew Tkachuk got another consolation to make it 6-2. Howden then added his second of the game to round off the scoring, making it 7-2.
NHL picks: Golden Knights to win
So much was made of Florida’s road prowess that the hockey world has been sleeping on Vegas’ home-ice advantage. The Golden Knights are 8-3 at T-Mobile Arena, with five wins in their past six home games, and the raucous sellout crowd pushed the atmosphere to a new level in Games 1 and 2.
The Golden Knights forwards are capable of pressuring and wearing down the Panthers’ biggest weakness, their shaky defense. Plus, Vegas’ own blue line is strong enough to be physical against the Panthers forwards — notably Cousins, who was pushed around in Game 1 and non-existent in Game 2.
Florida's record at home this season has been excellent going 23-13-5 in the regular season but in the playoffs so far they are only 4-3 in Miami. As for Vegas on the road, they went 26-7-8 in the regular season and so far in the playoffs they have gone 6-2.
All signs point towards a big win on the road for Vegas, who have been the best team in the NHL this season, and they could really put their stamp on the year by edging closer to a sweep in the finals.
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NHL picks: Over 6 total goals
Six goals is usually quite a lot in hockey, but between these two teams it seems like the perfect amount for the betting line.
The Golden Knights are averaging 3.26 goals per game this season, and average 2.74 goals per game against which means they usually give teams a chance to get at them. Florida on the other hand are averaging 3.51 goals per game scored, while they tend to concede 3.32 goals per game on average which makes for an open and entertaining game.
Both games in the series so far have gone over this total quite comfortably, and the likelihood is that will happen again here in Game 3.
The Panthers will know they have to attack in front of their home crowd because they simply can't fall 3-0 behind in the series and expect to fight back to win.
But by attacking aggressively early on means they will risk leaving themselves open defensively, and the Golden Knights have already shown that they are more than capable of punishing them and scoring freely if given the opportunity.
Even if Vegas don't get the win on the day, they will score goals and that will mean this lands just by pure default.
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