Oilers beat Panthers to force Game 7 of Stanley Cup Finals

EDMONTON, Alberta — Connor McDavid was held scoreless, so Leon Dryside and the rest of the Edmonton Oilers’ top players stepped up to get one win away from the Stanley Cup.

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

“At the end of the day, we’re playing to win and it’s going to be a tough game for us,” Dryside said. “We have to bring our game back.”

They became just the third team to tie the finals after trailing 3-0 and the first since the Detroit Red Wings in 1945. The Oilers have a chance to join the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night in Sunrise, Florida. The only NHL teams to come back from that deficit to hoist the Stanley Cup.

“There was an unwavering belief,” Hyman said. “We’ve always believed that no matter what happened throughout the year, we could get through it. No matter how difficult the situation, we think we have a chance. It’s been a long-term crisis that has prepared us. The next one is going to be very difficult. To do it in front of this crowd feels incredible. , now is our first chance to have a chance to win.

After falling into a 3-0 series hole, the Oilers rallied by scoring five or more goals in three straight games, the longest streak in the Stanley Cup Finals since the Pittsburgh Penguins did it in 1991, according to ESPN Stats and Information Research.

A chance to make hockey history and end Canada’s three-decade Cup drought came only after McDavid’s four points in Games 4 and 5 took the Oilers from brink to hope. It was the first time in his nine-year career that he won a game without scoring a point or a shot.

Draisaitl, the league MVP and considered one of the best players in the world, ignited a spark in Game 5 after his longtime partner, Draisaitl, was largely ineffective against the Panthers.

“He’s a horse,” defenseman Darnell Nurse said. “He always shines in the biggest moments. You watch all his playoff performances, he’s one of the best to do that.”

Draisaitl got the puck at center ice, skated around and through Florida defenders and put the puck on Foegele’s stick for a tap-in that Sergei Bobrovsky had no chance of stopping. It drew a sellout crowd of more than 18,000 to chants of “Cher-gai! Cher-gai!” That didn’t stop him from jokingly singing.

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The goalie everyone calls “Bob” can’t be blamed, though, as he had fouls in front of him and contributed to a 2-on-1 rush that beat Henrik Bobrovsky on a 2-on-1 rush off Matias’ perfect pass. Janmark. The Panthers looked tight and scary in front of their goaltender, and unlike the juggernaut that reached the finals for the second year in a row, won their first three games and edged to the first title in franchise history.

“We have a game,” Panthers defensive end Dmitry Kulikov said. “We were ready from the start to play a seven-game series and nothing has changed now. We got three up and they played three good games. Now it’s up to us to win at home.”

Florida took just six shots midway through the game and finished with 21. When the Oilers needed him most, goaltender Stuart Skinner made a timely save to keep the Panthers at bay. 90 seconds into the third period.

“He lights up when we need him,” Janmark said of Skinner.

Edmonton coach Chris Knoblauch had a goal off the board 10 seconds after Henrik scored. Successfully challenged for offside. In a lengthy review, Sam Reinhart found that he had come within an inch or less of a strike, the announcement of which was followed by a roar from the fans.

“I really don’t think it’s that close,” Knoblach said. “In my mind, that’s definitely offside.”

It wasn’t as loud as Rogers Place got, and there were plenty of candidates for that distinction. The decibel meter displayed on the video screens reached 113.8 as the Oilers stepped onto the ice to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.”

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In the closing minutes Ryan McLeod and Nurse shouted “We want the cup!” It may have come close to that sound when chants were raised. “We want the cup!” And a wild celebration at the outdoor viewing party.

It was the fevered pitch of a city awash in a sea of ​​blue and orange downtown just hours before the puck drop. Friday might as well have been a holiday in Edmonton, home to nearly a million people, and the Oilers are able to dream of raising another white championship banner to the rafters — and doing so in an improbable way.

“We’re excited to continue our season,” McDavid said. “That’s it. One game at a time, one day at a time. Looking forward to the next game.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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