NHL

Stanley Cup Final: Connor McDavid leads Oilers in Game 5 thriller to send series back to Edmonton

Stanley Cup Final: Connor McDavid leads Oilers in Game 5 thriller to send series back to Edmonton

Panthers fans showed up in South Florida on Tuesday night fired up to celebrate the franchise's first Stanley Cup championship.

The Oilers missed the memo.

Edmonton took control in the opening period then held off a Florida rally for a thrilling 5-3 win in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. Oilers superstar Connor McDavid tallied two goals and two assists in the win.

After trailing 3-0, the Oilers have reeled off consecutive wins to cut their series deficit to 3-2. The Stanley Cup Final shifts back to Edmonton via a nearly six-hour flight where the Oilers will have a chance to tie the series in front of their home crowd.

Only four teams have rallied from a 3-0 playoff deficit to win an NHL playoff series. The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs are the only team to do so in the Stanley Cup Final.

Tuesday's game started much like Saturday's 8-1 Oilers win. After a chaotic opening sequence that produced five combined shots on goal in 94 seconds, the Panthers secured the game's first edge with a power play less than five minutes in. But it was the Oilers who took advantage.

With the Panthers on power play, Oilers right winger Connor Brown stole a cross-ice pass near the Florida blue line and and broke free for a scoring chance with only goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky standing in his way.

Bobrovsky didn't stand a chance. Brown deked him and snuck the puck past his right skate and into the net to open a 1-0 Edmonton lead.

On Saturday, Brown sparked the Edmonton scoring barrage by corralling a loose puck and assisting on a shorthanded Mattias Janmark goal early in the first period. The Oilers became the fourth team to score multiple shorthanded goals in the Stanley Cup Final in the past 30 years.

Brown's goal marked the end of scoring in a first period that Edmonton dominated. The Oilers outshot the Panthers 10-6 and didn't allow a Florida shot on goal in the final 14 minutes of the period.

The floodgates opened on both sides of the ice in a frantic second period that produced five goals.

Edmonton started the period with a 5-4 advantage after a late Florida penalty in the first. With two seconds left on the power play, Zach Hyman knocked a slap shot from near the blue line through traffic and past Bobrovsky to double the Oilers' lead.

Three minutes later, McDavid slipped a wrist shot from the left side past Bobrovsky for a 3-0 lead that appeared to put the Oilers in full control.

But the Panthers weren't done.

Two minutes later, Florida's Evan Rodrigues came away with the puck from a scrum at the boards and found teammate Matthew Tkachuk clear of five Edmonton defenders who helplessly gave chase. Tkachuk then sent the puck past goaltender Stuart Skinner to sound the Amerant Bank Arena horn for the first time Tuesday night.

The Oilers answered five minutes later, this time on another bit of brilliance from McDavid. The Oilers All-Star skated end-to-end through and past four defenders on a power play, then passed the puck to a trailing Corey Perry, who wristed it into the net for a 4-1 Oilers lead.

Florida answered 14 seconds later. This time, Rodrigues corralled a rebound of a Brandon Montour shot and wristed it into the net to cut the Edmonton lead to 4-2.

A Florida offense that was stagnant through Game 4 and the start of Game 5 had come alive. The Panthers got off the last 19 shots of the second period and carried that momentum into the start of the third.

They maintained control of the puck to start the third period and cut their deficit to 4-3 on an Oliver Ekman-Larsson one-timer from Tkachuk with 15:56 left.

A Florida home crowd that sat stunned midway through the second period was on its collective feet. What looked like another Edmonton blowout was suddenly a thriller with the Stanley Cup at stake.

But there would be no Stanley Cup celebration Tuesday night. The Panthers continued to control the puck for most of the final period, but their deficit proved to be too much.

Florida pulled Bobrovsky with 2:31 remaining for a 6-5 advantage, but didn't score again. Skinner repeatedly turned back late Florida shots, and McDavid put the game away with an empty-net goal with 18 seconds remaining. The Oilers stay alive in their quest to rally from a 3-0 Stanley Cup Final deficit.

Connor McDavid tallied two goals and two assists Tuesday night. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

In a game the Oilers controlled through the first 30 minutes, the Panthers finished with a 32-24 advantage in shots on goal. They secured a 37-25 edge in faceoffs won. But McDavid and Edmonton's power play proved too much to overcome.

The Oilers scored on two of their five power-play opportunities while the Panthers came up empty and gave up a shorthanded goal in three. Meanwhile, Skinner came up big in the late stages under a steady onslaught of Panthers shots. He finished the game with 29 saves and three goals allowed.

Bobrovsky countered with 19 saves and four goals allowed a game after allowing five goals on 16 shots before being pulled. Bobrovsky has been excellent throughout the playoffs and stymied the Oilers in the first two games of the series. With McDavid on a roll, the Panthers will look to Bobrovsky to find his prior form to keep the Oilers from extending the series to seven games.

Game 6 is scheduled for Friday night.

Game 1: Panthers 3, Oilers 0
Game 2: Panthers 4, Oilers 1
Game 3: Panthers 4, Oilers 3
Game 4: Oilers 8, Panthers 1
Game 5: Oilers 5, Panthers 3
Game 6: Panthers at Oilers | Friday, June 21, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+)
*Game 7: Oilers at Panthers | Monday, June 24, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+)

(*if necessary)

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