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Verhaeghe's OT winner lifts Panthers over Golden Knights in Game 3

Icon Sportswire / Getty

Carter Verhaeghe buried the winner less than five minutes into overtime as the Florida Panthers prevailed 3-2 over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Thursday.

The Panthers cut the Golden Knights' series lead to 2-1 and won their first-ever Cup Final game. Florida improved to 7-0 in overtime in these playoffs.

Matthew Tkachuk left the game in the first period after being on the wrong end of a big hit from Golden Knights forward Keegan Kolesar earlier in the frame. The Hart Trophy finalist returned early in the second after clearing the NHL's concussion protocol.

Tkachuk then scored with just over two minutes left in regulation to tie it after Jonathan Marchessault gave Vegas the lead late in the second period with his 13th goal in 13 playoff games this spring.

"I really don't know what to say," Tkachuk told Sportsnet's Kyle Bukauskas postgame. "Probably just the gutsiest win I've ever been a part of. I'm very proud of the team, and we're not done yet."

Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov, who's been with the Cats since they drafted him second overall in 2013, relished the moment that's been a decade in the making.

"I've been here a long time, and this is the best time in my life right now," he said, according to team reporter Jameson Olive. "To play in front of that crowd and to battle for something that I've been dreaming of since I was born is huge. To be a Florida Panther right now, Iโ€™m really proud of that."

Marchessault matched Edmonton Oilers star Leon Draisaitl - whom the Golden Knights eliminated in the second round - for the playoff scoring lead with that tally.

Brandon Montour, whose wife recently gave birth to a son, opened the scoring for the Panthers four minutes and eight seconds into the game. Mark Stone answered with a tying goal late in the opening stanza.

Florida goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky continued his strong postseason play by stopping all but two of the 27 shots he faced. Vegas netminder Adin Hill made 20 saves.

Game 4 is scheduled for Saturday night in Florida.

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