2024 Stanley Cup Final: Key takeaways from Oilers’ 5-3 Game 5 win over Panthers

Stanley Cup
Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

The Stanley Cup Final is returning to Edmonton after the Oilers, who were down 3-0 in the series, won their second consecutive elimination contest, 5-3, over the Florida Panthers in Game 5 on Tuesday night. Connor McDavid continued where he left off in Game 4, with four more points, to become just the third skater in NHL history to score at least 40 in a single postseason.

With the win, the Oilers become just the fourth team to ever extend a Stanley Cup Final to Game 6 after falling behind 3-0, following the New Jersey Devils (2012), Detroit Red Wings (1945), and Toronto Maple Leafs (1942). If Edmonton can win two more contests, they would become only the second team behind the 1942 Maple Leafs to reverse sweep the Stanley Cup Final.

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After dominating the scoreboard for three games, the Panthers are now on their heels, giving up 13 goals in the last six periods. They are now in an uncomfortable position flying back to Alberta because the sleepy, dynamic Oilers offense now looks unstoppable as they look to extend the series to a pivotal Game 7 on Monday, June 24.

The 2024 Stanley Cup Final is now 3-2 in favor of Florida, but how did we get here? Let’s see how things unfolded in Game 5.

Oilers back in the series because they have dominated on special teams

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Edmonton Oilers at Florida Panthers
Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

The Oilers opened the Stanley Cup Final, going 0-for-10 on the power play. Before the series, Edmonton was 19-for-51, which equaled a 37.2% success rate. After breaking through in Game 4 for their first power play goal of the series, they turned it up a notch in Game 6, putting the Panthers on their heels in a Cup-clinching game by finishing the contest 2-for-6, or 40%.

Moreover, the Oilers opened the scoring for the second consecutive game with a shorthanded goal, this time by Connor Brown. This added more agony to Florida’s man-advantage woes, as they are now 1-for-16 with two goals against through five games.

Related: 2024 Stanley Cup Final: Key takeaways from Oilers 8-1 Game 4 win over Panthers

Through three rounds, Edmonton had surrendered just three power play goals, killing off 46-for-49 penalties (93.8%). Not only are they scoring shorthanded in the Stanley Cup Final, but now their power play is clicking, and their penalty killing is still producing at 93.7%.

Even though the Panthers jumped out to an early 3-0 series lead, the series has almost been flipped because Edmonton’s special teams are again operating like a well-oiled machine.

Stuart Skinner continues to frustrate Panthers in Stanley Cup Final

With his back against the wall in Game 4, Stuart Skinner gave up just one goal and finished the victory with a .970 SV%, his third-best performance of the 2024 playoffs. His final save count was 32, but none were as significant as the cross-crease robbery he performed on Carter Verhaeghe in the first period.

In Game 5, Skinner improved to 4-0 this postseason when facing elimination. He stopped 29 shots, but none were as significant as an identical save on Aaron Ekblad in the first period. It was still scoreless at that stage, but an early goal would have put the Oilers in trouble with the Cup on the line in enemy territory.

During the regular season, Skinner lost only three games once, from Nov. 2 to Nov. 9, under former head coach Jay Woodcroft. Right now, he’s outplaying Sergei Bobrovsky, who many thought could have been the Conn Smythe Trophy winner after three games of the Final.

Ahead of Game 6 on Friday night, Skinner only needs to keep doing what he does best and stand on his head in another elimination game. If Edmonton wins one more to even the series, all the pressure will be on the Panthers not to blow only the fifth 3-0 series lead in NHL history.

Connor McDavid has taken over series, on cusp of NHL history

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Edmonton Oilers at Florida Panthers
Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Before the puck dropped on the Stanley Cup Final, McDavid was the odds-on favorite to be playoff MVP. He terrorized netminders, scoring five goals and 26 assists for 31 points in 18 games. On the cusp of the assists record, once held by Gretzky with 31, McDavid was Edmonton’s best player in Game 1 but was held pointless.

In Game 2, he picked up an assist and collected two more in Game 3. However, he saved one of his best performances for Game 4, when he broke The Great One’s record and came within two points of reaching 40. His inspired play rallied the Oilers to an 8-1 win, forcing Game 5 on Tuesday.

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Edmonton’s captain did not disappoint in another elimination game on Tuesday, tallying two goals and four points to bring his postseason season totals to eight goals, 34 assists, and 42 points. McDavid has eight points in the last six periods of hockey and has dragged the Oilers back into this series with a chance to extend it to a crucial Game 7 with one more victory on home ice.

The single-season playoff record for most points is 47, held by Gretzky since 1985, and is now in serious jeopardy with how dominant the game’s best player has become in the past two games. Win or lose, McDavid is having one of the best statistical runs in playoff history. If the Panthers don’t find a way to neutralize him as they did in the first few games of the series, they risk being on the wrong side of history in a possible reverse sweep.

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