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Connor McDavid dominates as Oilers win Stanley Cup Final Game 5

Connor McDavid dominates as Oilers win Stanley Cup Final Game 5

SUNRISE, Fla. – Connor McDavid’s words after his Edmonton Oilers defeated the Florida Panthers in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final became a rallying cry.

“We have to go to Florida,” he said, “do a job and tow them back to Alberta.”

The Oilers did just that on Tuesday night with a 5-3 victory in Game 5 at Amerant Bank Arena. It wasn’t as dominant as Saturday’s 8-1 defeat, but they did more than enough – led by McDavid’s two goals and two assists – to stay alive. They need two more wins, but they’ll be back on home ice on Friday to try to secure the first.

“We believe we can do it,” Oilers defenseman Mattias Ekholm said. “We’re coming home again. I’m sure the fans will be just as excited about it as they were in Game 3, Game 4.”

The Oilers led 3-0 and 4-1 in the second period but had to fend off a comeback attempt by the Panthers, who pulled a goal home early in the third. Stuart Skinner made 29 saves for the Oilers. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 19 shots for Florida.

The Panthers entered Game 5 as a team looking to claim its first Stanley Cup title on home ice, but Skinner’s prowess carried over from Game 4, starting with a heist on Aaron Ekblad and continuing through a series of intense, high-pressure turnovers by Florida. .

A penalty for Brett Kulak at just 4:47 felt like it would provide the release the home crowd was waiting for. Instead, Oilers forward Connor Brown stole the puck at the blue line midway through the power play and beat Bobrovsky with a patient backhander. It was the second game in a row that Edmonton opened the scoring with a short score.

After Brown’s count, the Panthers managed just one more shot on goal in the remaining 2:30 of the period. And Niko Mikkola was whistled for interference on the horn, giving the Oilers a power play to start the second period.

Edmonton’s vaunted power play had yet to kick into gear in the finals – its only power play came on a five-on-three in Game 4 – and for 1 minute, 58 seconds, it looked like that trend would continue. But a point shot by Evan Bouchard (three assists) hit Zach Hyman in front of the net and past Bobrovsky with two seconds left, putting the Oilers up 2-0.

McDavid made it 3-0 just over three minutes later with a bank shot from Bobrovsky, leaving the Panthers reeling – and the likelihood of another 2,500-mile flight to Alberta.

Matthew Tkachuk got Florida on the board 1:53 later with a quick release to Skinner after Evan Rodrigues stole the puck along the boards and steamrolled it to Tkachuk low in the zone.

But a hooking penalty on Kyle Okposo at 10:02 put Edmonton’s new, confident power play to work again, and McDavid did what he does best off the rush, turning the Panthers inside out as he drove the net and cornered Corey Perry for a point. entry at 11:54 am.

Rodrigues replied with his fourth goal of the series 14 seconds later, but Florida could get no closer after 40 minutes despite a strong push in the second half of the period.

That push continued into the third, and the Panthers needed just 4:04 to get within a goal. Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, playing on this stage for the first time in the 14th year of his NHL career, found the net off a feed from Tkachuk and brought hope back to the crowd.

Brown said the Oilers were ready for the challenge.

“We feel comfortable with one-goal games,” he said. “… I think we showed composure. They scored, they put us there in the first five minutes. We stayed calm. … I think we’re showing our maturity. We show our character as the season progresses. Our confidence and conviction is growing.”

The crowd’s hopes began to fade as the tying period continued, and tension rose when Dmitry Kulikov was penalized for tripping, putting the Oilers back on the power play with 7:32 to go.

Florida ended that penalty, but it cut two minutes into a comeback. The Panthers pulled Bobrovsky for an extra attacker with just over 2:30 left, and McDavid hit the empty net with 17.3 seconds left to do exactly what he wanted: move the series back to Alberta.