2024 Stanley Cup Final: Key takeaways from Oilers’ 5-1 Game 6 win over Panthers

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The 2024 Stanley Cup Final is headed to a Game 7 on Monday night, thanks to an Edmonton Oilers 5-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Friday night. With their win, the Oilers became the third team in NHL history to rally from a 3-0 series deficit to force a Game 7 in the Final, following the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs (win) and the 1945 Detroit Red Wings (loss).

Edmonton’s role players, Adam Henrique (two goals), Warren Foegele, and Ryan McLeod, had lamplighters. The playoff-leading goal scorer, Zach Hyman, scored on a breakaway in the second period to net his 16th of the postseason. For the first time in two games, Oilers captain Connor McDavid didn’t register a point after singlehandedly dragging his team back into the series with eight points in Games 4 and 5.

Meanwhile, Panthers star goalie Sergei Bobrovsky gave up three goals in the first period, marking the third consecutive game with at least three getting behind him. He surrendered just four goals in the first nine periods of the Stanley Cup Final. In the following eight periods, he’s given up 12. His inability to make key saves as the season progressed is why Florida is now on the verge of being reverse-swept.

All the pressure is on Florida now to avoid historical collapse

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The Panthers were not the best team in the series’ first three games and were outplayed for most of Game 6. Through 30 minutes, the visitors had five shots on goal. By that point, it was already 2-0 in favor of Edmonton, and despite getting a goal called back, there was no life in a team on the cusp of winning the Stanley Cup.

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The Oilers were too good of a team to be swept, so following an 8-1 blowout win in Game 4, Florida had a chance to regroup on home ice in Game 5, but by the time they found their groove, they were already in a deep hole on the scoreboard. The same story played out in Game 6 at Rogers Place.

Florida’s first five shots came from defenders, and their forwards finished the night with 13 shots. When looking at the lineup card, the Panthers employ 57-goal scorer Sam Reinhart, who has three points in the Final, followed by Matthew Tkachuk (three), Aleksander Barkov (four), and Carter Verhaeghe (one). Outside of Barkov, everyone else was nearly invisible in a Cup-clinching scenario.

Only one team has ever blown a 3-0 in the Stanley Cup Final, the 1942 Detroit Red Wings.

The Panthers went from being 60 minutes away from winning the Stanley Cup to being 60 minutes away from going down in the history books for losing the most pivotal playoff series in franchise history. This Stanley Cup Final is over if they show up and put up a merger effort in Game 7 like they did on Friday night.

Related: Panthers latest in salary cap era with consecutive Stanley Cup Final appearances

Oilers role players step up and give superstars a night off

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McDavid scored eight points in two games to give Edmonton life in the series. He singlehandedly carried the team to Game 6 and had a quiet night in another elimination game with just no shots on goal. If he plans on catching Wayne Gretzky’s record for most points (47) in a single postseason, he will need to get five points in Game 7.

Leon Draisaitl picked up an assist in the first period in Game 6, just his third point in the series. His helper set up Foegele’s opening goal, while Henrique and Hyman kept the Oilers ahead on the scoreboard. After watching their captain carry the offense for 120 minutes, Edmonton’s depth shined on Friday night, with four goals from three players who combined for 56 goals in the regular season.

For the first time in a long time, the Oilers’ depth is a key reason the team is only one win away from reverse sweeping this series. Outside of the offensive outbursts in Games 4 and 5, the majority of goals and points in the series have gone to players like Woegele, Henrique, McLeod, Corey Perry, Dylan Holloway, and Connor Brown, to name a few.

Even though McDavid is a lock to win the Conn Smythe, they always say it takes a team to win a championship, and Edmonton is a complete team from top to bottom. With another dominant performance in Game 6, Edmonton put the Panthers on the ropes for the first time this postseason.

Skinner continues to save his best performances in clutch situations

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Florida Panthers at Edmonton Oilers
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The Oilers didn’t face an elimination situation until Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. In the first round against the Los Angeles Kings, Stuart Skinner gave up three goals and had a .857 SV% but held on for a 4-3 win in Game 5 to advance.

After splitting the first two games of the series with the Vancouver Canucks, Skinner and the Oilers won the next two games with their goalie going 2-0 with three goals against and a .906 SV%. Then, he saved his best for the Western Conference Final, giving up only two goals over Games 5 and 6 to finish with a .963 SV%.

Following his third consecutive win in the Stanley Cup Final, Skinner went from a .868 SV% in three losses with nine goals against to backstopping the Oilers to within one win of a championship. In Game 6, Skinner finished the contest with a .952 SV%, his second-best total of the series, following a .970 SV% in Game 4 and a .906 SV% in Game 5.

Although the spotlight of the series has shifted to McDavid and all the players who have scored points in the past three games, Skinner’s brilliant play is one of the main reasons that Edmonton is on the cusp of ending Canada’s 31-year championship drought.

Heading into Game 7, Skinner is undefeated in elimination games in 2024, sporting a 6-0 record with just 10 goals against (1.66 GAA) and a sparkling .922 SV%.

The Panthers and Oilers will meet in Game 7 on Monday at 8:00 p.m. ET, the last game of the 2023-24 season. No matter who wins this historical contest, it will end one of the most memorable Stanley Cup Finals in recent memory.

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