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Published Time: 19.06.2024 - 01:13:56 Modified Time: 19.06.2024 - 01:13:56

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Stuart Skinner made 30 saves. Evan Bouchard had three assists.

Matthew Tkachuk and Evan Rodrigues, with a goal and an assist each, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson replied for Florida. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 19 shots for the Panthers, a group now feeling the squeeze following consecutive losses with the Cup in the building and a chance to clinch the franchise's first-ever title.

Game 6 in a championship round with the furthest distance between cities in NHL history at more than 4,000 kilometres goes Friday in Edmonton. Game 7, if necessary, would be Monday back in South Florida.

"I'm not pumping tires. I'm not rubbing backs. I don't think we need that at all," Panthers coach Paul Maurice said. "Everybody feels probably exactly the way I do right now. I'm not feeling deflated. Neither's the hockey team. They're not feeling deflated. Little grumpy."

Maybe a lot grumpy.

"We're going to turn the page," forward Evan Rodrigues said. "We're going to learn from this one."

McDavid's 42 points this spring already represents the fourth-best individual playoff performance in league history behind Wayne Gretzky (47 points, 1984-85), Mario Lemieux (44 points, 1990-91) and Gretzky (43 points, 1987-88).

"Anytime you're in the same realm as those two, it's always a good thing," McDavid said.

The 27-year-old's eight points in Cup elimination games — he put up four Saturday — also set the record for one title series.

The Oilers are looking to capture their first Cup in 34 years — and the first for a Canadian team since the Montreal Canadiens won in 1993.

The Panthers came out of the gates flying at Amerant Bank Arena, forcing Skinner to make big stops on both Sam Reinhart and Aaron Ekblad in the opening moments.

Florida went to the power play a few minutes later, but the Oilers scored their second short-handed goal in as many games to open the scoring — a first in the history of the final.

Brown, who waited until his 55th contest to score this season, intercepted a no-look pass by Panthers defenceman Brandon Montour at Edmonton's blue line and outraced Aleksander Barkov before making a deke to the backhand on an outstretched Bobrovsky for his second goal of the playoffs at 5:30.

The Oilers' struggling man advantage had two minutes of fresh ice and a number of looks to start the second before finally breaking through at 5-on-4 when Bouchard's blast hit Hyman in front for his playoff-leading 15th at 1:58.

McDavid then snuck his seventh under Bobrovsky — suddenly human after stopping 82-of-86 shots through the first three games — from a sharp angle at the five-minute mark for a 3-1 lead.

Tkachuk got Florida on the board 1:53 later when he fired his sixth, and first since May 22, upstairs.

Edmonton struck late on another power play at 11:54 when McDavid wove into the offensive zone and found Perry on a spectacular setup for the veteran winger's first.

Ekman-Larsson brought the Panthers to within one at 4:04 of the third period with his second before McDavid iced it into the empty net to force Game 6.

A group that rebounded after starting the season 2-9-1, came back from three deficits against the Vancouver Canucks in the second round of the playoffs, and fell behind the Dallas Stars 2-1 in the Western Conference final, the Oilers now sit just two wins from improbable glory.

"No. No. No," Tkachuk said when asked if the Panthers feel the pressure. "It's not an elimination game for us. We're going up there, we have a 3-2 series lead, just got to take care of like we did in Game 3."

With files from The

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