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NHL: Edmonton Oilers Force Historic Game 7 In NHL’s 2024 Stanley Cup Final...

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Published Time: 22.06.2024 - 03:01:14 Modified Time: 22.06.2024 - 03:01:14

A win would also make Edmonton the first Canadian team to win the NHL’s championship since the 1993 Montreal Canadiens — offering hope to the operations teams with the other six squads north of the border that receive most of their revenue in Canadian funds, but pay player salaries and many other expenses in U.S. dollars. NHL, Oilers



Connor McDavid and Stuart Skinner of the Edmonton Oilers celebrate at Rogers Place in Edmonton,


The comeback is complete.

In 1942, the Toronto Maple Leafs came back to beat the Detroit Red Wings. In a rematch three years later, Toronto got the 3-0 lead before Detroit replied with three wins, but the Maple Leafs prevailed with a 2-1 win in Game 7.

The Oilers are now the first team since those 1945 Red Wings to erase a 3-0 deficit in the Stanley Cup Final. Monday night, they’ll look to make even more history.

A win would also make Edmonton the first Canadian team to win the NHL’s championship since the 1993 Montreal Canadiens — offering hope to the operations teams with the other six squads north of the border that receive most of their revenue in Canadian funds, but pay player salaries and many other expenses in U.S. dollars.

The final marks the third-straight playoff series where Edmonton has come back to win after falling behind in the pitch count, so to speak. The Oilers were also down 3-2 and facing elimination against the Vancouver Canucks in Round 2, then had a 2-1 deficit against the Dallas Stars before flipping a switch and winning three-straight games to advance.

It’s a stunning show of resilience that is built into the DNA of this squad, which was tied for last place in the entire NHL with a record of 2-9-1 on Nov. 10, two days before first-time NHL head coach Kris Knoblauch replaced Jay Woodcroft behind the bench.

The Oilers’ comeback has been led by their captain, Connor McDavid. Now in his ninth season, the 27-year-old three-time league MVP posted back-to-back four-point games to ignite Edmonton’s comeback with an 8-1 win on home ice in Game 4 and a 5-3 win in South Florida on Tuesday.

By the end of Game 5, McDavid was up to 34 assists and 42 points in 23 playoff games. He now holds the all-time record for assists in a single playoff year after surpassing Wayne Gretzky’s old record of 31 in Game 4. And McDavid is now fourth all-time in playoff points behind Gretzky (47 pts, 1985), Mario Lemieux (44 pts, 1991) and Gretzky again (43 pts, 1988).

Friday night, his offense wasn’t needed: his teammates carried the torch. Leon Draisaitl fed Warren Foegele for his third of the playoffs to open the scoring at 7:27 of the first period. Veteran checking center Adam Henrique, a trade-deadline acquisition, picked up his fourth of the playoffs early in the second. And later in the middle frame, Zach Hyman scored his league-leading 16th of the playoffs when he tucked a breakaway chance under Sergei Bobrovsky’s arm to send Rogers Place into utter bedlam.

In the third, the Panthers made a push, controlling over 95 percent of the expected goals in the period according to Natural Stat Trick.

At 1:28, captain Aleksander Barkov scored his eighth goal of the playoffs, tying him with Matthew Tkachuk for his team’s points lead at 22. But Florida still managed just eight shots on goal in the final frame, and 21 in the game. Ryan McLeod iced it for Edmonton with an empty-netter with 3:15 left to play, and Darnell Nurse added another insurance tally 12 seconds later.

Despite McDavid’s stratospheric stats, the Oilers’ playoff success has been built from a foundation of solid team play and good defense, including a record-setting penalty kill.

The Oilers have allowed just one goal while shorthanded in the final, while scoring two themselves.

With one game to go, Edmonton is now 64-for-68 while a man short through the playoffs, a success rate of 94.1 percent that tops the 2000 New Jersey Devils (62-for-67, 92.5 percent) for the best of all time since the NHL started to keep penalty-killing statistics in 1977-78, for a team that has gone past the second round.

For the moment, all the momentum is on the Oilers’ side. But the Panthers do have the advantage of being back on home ice for Game 7. And in a one-game winner-take-all affair, anything can happen.


Matthew Tkachuk and Aleksander Barkov have led the way for the Florida Panthers during back-to-back


A win for the Panthers would also be historic — the first in the 30-year history of their franchise. And after spending most of their years mired in the depths of the NHL standings and playing in front of thousands of empty seats, the Panthers have made massive strides toward success both on and off the ice since owner Vincent Viola bought the team in 2013.

On the ice, the team has levelled up since Bill Zito took the reins as general manager starting in 2020.

In 2022, the Panthers won the Presidents’ Trophy as the NHL’s best regular-season team, then followed up with their first playoff-series win since 1996. Now, they’ve gone to the Stanley Cup Final in back-to-back years.

The Panthers reached the 2024 final in dominant fashion against three tough opponents. They started with a five-game first-round win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, and followed up with six-game wins over the Boston Bruins and the Presidents’ Trophy-winning New York Rangers.

Monday night will be Florida’s first Game 7 since the first round of the 2023 playoffs, when they erased a 3-1 deficit against the Boston Bruins with Carter Verhaeghe’s overtime tally to send them on their run to the final.

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