July 14, 2024

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The Oilers beat the Panthers to force Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final

The Oilers beat the Panthers to force Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final

EDMONTON, Alberta – Connor McDavid was held without a point, so Leon Draisaitl and the other top Edmonton Oilers stepped up to give them one win away from the Stanley Cup.

Draisaitl made his first big impact in the Final by setting up Warren Foegele’s early goal, Adam Henrique and Zach Hyman scored in the second period and forced the Oilers to a Game 7 clinch, defeating the Florida Panthers 5-1 in Game 6 on Friday night.

“At the end of the day, we are playing to win and this will be the toughest game for us,” Draisaitl said. “We have to get our game back.”

They are the third team to tie the final after trailing 3-0 in the series, and the first since the Detroit Red Wings in 1945. The Oilers have a chance Monday night in Sunrise, Fla., to join the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs. The only NHL teams to return From this deficit to raise the Stanley Cup.

“There was an unshakeable belief,” Hyman said. “No matter what happened throughout the year, we always believed we could qualify. No matter how difficult the circumstances were, we believed we had a chance. It’s been a long season in the face of adversity that has prepared us. The next season will be the toughest.” It’s unbelievable to do it in front of this crowd to have a chance to win now, this is our first chance to win.

After falling into a 3-0 series hole, the Oilers have rallied by scoring more than five goals in three straight games, the longest such streak in a Stanley Cup Final since the Pittsburgh Penguins did it in 1991, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

The chance to make hockey history and end a three-decade Canada Cup drought only existed after McDavid’s heroics with four points each in Games 4 and 5 took the Oilers from brink to faith. This was the first time in his nine-year career that they won a game in which he did not score a point or hit the net.

Draisaitl, his longtime teammate from Germany who was also the league’s MVP and considered among the best in the world, lit the spark in Game 5 after being largely ineffective against the Panthers.

“He’s a horse,” defenseman Darnell Nurse said. “He always shows up in the big moments. When you look at all his playoff performances, he’s one of the best players ever.”

Draisaitl got the puck at center ice, skated around and through Florida’s defenders and put the puck on Foegele’s stick bar in order to tap the puck and Sergei Bobrovsky had almost no chance to stop it. This, of course, did not stop the enthusiastic crowd of more than 18,000 from mockingly chanting, “Sir Ji! Sir Ji!”

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It wasn’t hard to put the blame on the goalie everyone called “Pop”, as the mistakes he made in front of him also contributed to the 2-on-1 rush that ended with Henrique beating Bobrovsky off a 2-on-1 rush after a perfect pass from Mathias. Janmark. The Panthers appeared tense and timid in front of their goalkeeper, in contrast to the juggernaut, which reached the final for the second year in a row and won the first three matches to move to the verge of the first title in the history of the franchise.

“We have one game left,” Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov said. “We were prepared from the beginning to play a seven-game series, and nothing has changed now. We led in three games, and they played three good games. Now it is up to us to win at home.”

Florida had just six shots on net midway through the game and finished with 21. Continuing the trend of being there when the Oilers need him most, goaltender Stuart Skinner made a timely save to stymie the Panthers, allowing only a goal to Aleksandar Barkov’s 90-under. Second in the third period.

“He was lights out when we needed him,” Janmark said of Skinner.

The first time Barkov went over the ball, 10 seconds after Henrique scored, the goal came off the board as Edmonton coach Kris Knoblauch scored. It was successfully challenged To sneak. A lengthy review found that Sam Reinhart entered the offensive zone perhaps an inch or less before the puck, and the announcement was followed by a roar from the crowd.

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“I actually didn’t think it was that close,” Knoblauch said. “In my opinion, it was definitely offside.”

This was not the highest vote ever received by Rogers Place, and there were plenty of candidates for that distinction. The decibel meter displayed on the video screens reached 113.8 as the Oilers took the ice to the tune of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.”

It may have come close to living up to that hype when Ryan McLeod and the Nurses scored empty-goals in the dying minutes, prompting chants of “We want the cup!” “We want the cup!” And a wild celebration at the viewing party outside.

It was the height of the city fever that had been engulfed in a sea of ​​blue and orange downtown in the hours before the puck dropped. Friday might as well have been a holiday in Edmonton, home to nearly a million people who are now fully capable of allowing themselves to dream of the Oilers adding another white championship banner to the rafters — and doing so in a most improbable way.

“We are excited to continue our season,” McDavid said. “That’s what it’s all about. One game at a time, one day at a time. I’m looking forward to the next one.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.