NHL

NHL playoffs: Oilers close out Stars to reach Stanley Cup Final, set up series with Panthers

NHL playoffs: Oilers close out Stars to reach Stanley Cup Final, set up series with Panthers

The Edmonton Oilers are headed to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in nearly two decades.

The Oilers closed out their Western Conference finals series against the Dallas Stars on Sunday night with a 2-1 win at Rogers Place in Alberta. That gave them the 4-2 series win and secured a trip to the championship series for the first time since 2006.

The Oilers haven’t won the title since 1990, when they won their fifth in a seven-year span. If the Oilers can pull off another title, they'll be the first Canadian team to win the championship since 1993.

"It feels like a dream honestly," Oilers star Connor McDavid said on Sportsnet after the win. "It was a crazy one tonight. Not out best effort, but we hung in there. Found a way to get a win … Just hung in there. It wasn't pretty, but we got it done."

McDavid — who will play in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in his career — got the Oilers on the board right away. After an early power play, McDavid found the back of the net off a pass from Leon Draisaitl not even five minutes into the opening period.

That marked his 30th point of the playoffs this spring, which made him the sixth player in NHL history to record multiple 30-point playoff years.

Then late in the period, McDavid found Zach Hyman to extend the lead.

Mason Marchment put the Stars on the board midway through the third period, and Dallas outshot the Oilers 11-2 to open the final period. That push came too late. The Oilers held on down the stretch to grab the one-goal win and secure their trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

The Oilers, after cruising through their opening-round series against the Los Angeles Kings, needed all seven games to reach the conference finals after a tight series with the Vancouver Canucks. They then got the jump on the Stars with a huge 3-2 double overtime win in Game 1 of the series. After dropping two straight, the Oilers won three in a row to close it out and reach the Final.

The Stars, on the other hand, have come up short again. Dallas, after losing in the Stanley Cup Final in 2020, reached the conference finals for a second straight year this season under head coach Peter DeBoer. The Stars, despite earning the top seed in the playoffs, were knocked out early for a second consecutive year.

The Oilers are headed to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in nearly two decades. (Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

With the win, the Oilers have set up a series against the Florida Panthers.

The Panthers closed out their battle against the New York Rangers with a 2-1 win on Saturday night in Game 6 in their Eastern Conference final series. The Panthers are now in the Stanley Cup Final for a second straight year and a third time in team history. They fell to the Las Vegas Golden Knights last season.

The Panthers improved by 10 wins and 18 points this season and won the Atlantic Division title before the postseason started. They then closed out the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games in the opening round before beating both the Boston Bruins and the Rangers to secure a spot in the finals.

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final is set for Saturday night in South Florida.

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