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

Stanley Cup
Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The Edmonton Oilers staved off elimination with a convincing 8-1 win over the Florida Panthers in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night, forcing a Game 5 on Tuesday. The Oilers earned their first victory in a Game 4 when trailing in a postseason series 3-0 in franchise history, improving to 1-5 in these situations while keeping their hopes of a championship this season alive.

Connor McDavid led the offense with four points, including three assists, to break Wayne Gretzky’s single-season playoff assists record (31) set in 1988. Edmonton’s captain remains the postseason-scoring leader with 38 points and is on the verge of becoming only the skater in league history to collect 40 points after Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Florida Panthers at Edmonton Oilers
Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

All but three players in the Oilers lineup had a point, with Derek Ryan, Cody Ceci, and Philip Broberg missing out on the scoring barrage. Their offense was so potent on Saturday that Sergei Bobrovsky was pulled after 11 goals on 16 shots in just 24:53, producing a .688 SV%, the third-lowest total of his NHL playoff career.

With a chance to celebrate their first Stanley Cup championship, the Panthers came out flat. After playing undisciplined hockey, they put the game out of reach, forcing the Cup back in the case and a trip back to Florida for Game 5.

Related: Need to know 7 facts about NHL playoff teams involved in 3-0 series comebacks

Regarding the 8-1 blowout on Saturday night, did the Oilers find their game and begin their quest to be the first team in 82 years to rally from a 3-0 Stanley Cup Final deficit, or did the Panthers have a clunker of a game? Here are some takeaways from Game 4 of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final.

NHL officials factor into the series…again

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Florida Panthers at Edmonton Oilers
Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Fans, players, coaches, and media personalities have spent the entire series talking about missed calls, blown calls, questionable calls, and everything in between. Although the four officials on the ice during a game are not supposed to factor into the game, the two head officials in Game 4 gave the Oilers a victory with a blown call in the first period.

Darnell Nurse ran Sam Bennett and targeted his knee with a blatant knee-on-knee hit, looking much worse on replay than the hit that Warren Foegele landed in Game 2. Foegele’s hit led to a five-minute major and game misconduct. Initially, the Nurse hit was assessed as major, but upon review, the officials knocked it down to a two-minute tripping penalty while Bennett left the bench.

Even though Bennett returned later in the period, the Oilers scored the game’s first goal shorthanded, and Nurse, who was issued no further punishment for targeting an opponent’s knees, scored the game’s fifth goal. He finished the night plus-3 with five blocks and played 20:03, while Bennett skated only 14:57.

Although the Panthers’ power play in the series is still struggling to connect, they could have devised a different game plan with the man advantage for five minutes had the officials correctly assessed a kneeing major. However, things didn’t play out that way, and the game and physicality unraveled as the seconds ticked down.

Related: Top takeaways from Panthers’ Game 3 win

A sleepy giant is now awake

The Oilers rolled into the Stanley Cup Final with the hottest power play, led by leading scorer McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Zach Hyman, and Evan Bouchard. Moreover, Edmonton denied the opponent’s man-advantage opportunities, killing off all but one power play since May 14, going 40-for-41 or 97.5%.

After going 0-for-10 in the first three games, the Oilers finally broke through and got a power play goal to continue their dominance on special teams. However, that isn’t the only that happened in Game 4. On the verge of elimination, the team’s stars came out to play, with McDavid, Draisaitl, Hyman, and Bouchard combining for nine points.

Those superstars who routinely score 50 goals and 100 points in the regular season had a great playoff run until the Stanley Cup Final, when they ran into their most formidable challenge against the Panthers but finally broke through in Game 4. After scoring four goals in 180 minutes, the Oilers erupted for eight in just 60 minutes.

They chased the best goalie left in the playoffs, planting a seed of doubt in the Florida dressing room. Edmonton won 16 games once this season and also had an 11-game win streak. So, winning four straight seems like a minor task with this record-setting offense.

Even though it was only one game, the Oilers showed the world what they could do on the grandest stage.

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

Panthers can quickly turn the page after this blowout defeat

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Florida Panthers at Edmonton Oilers
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If you asked any professional athlete, they would rather suffer through a blowout loss than lose a heartbreaker in regulation or sudden death. As the old saying goes, instead of having a meeting and watching all the pitfuls of their performance in Game 4, Panthers head coach Paul Maurice will probably “burn the tape.”

Florida watched the Oilers rally in a must-win game on home ice and score a touchdown and a two-point conversion to add insult to injury. While friends and families sat in the packed Rogers Place hoping to see their loved ones hoist the Stanley Cup, it wasn’t meant to be on Saturday.

Had this game ended 2-1 in double overtime with McDavid scoring the winner, it would have been a more crushing cross-continent flight. But Game 4 was Florida’s first loss in six games, and not everyone earns a Stanley Cup Final sweep, mainly since a Final sweep hasn’t occurred since 1998.

Since Edmonton dominated a distracted Panthers team on the verge of their first championship, it will be easy to get up, go to practice, and think about the next game. No team has gone undefeated on their quest for the Stanley Cup, so Game 4 was just a minor hiccup while the championship is still just 60 minutes away.

Instead of thinking about the past, which isn’t as heartbreaking as it could have been, Florida can turn the page and stick to the plan since it has gotten them in the best possible position to win a championship.

The Stanley Cup Final resumes Tuesday night at Anerant Bank Arena in Sunrise, FL, with puck drop scheduled for 8:00 p.m. ET.

Related: NHL games today: Watch time and TV info for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final

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