NHL

Stanley Cup Final Game 4 recap, winners, losers as Oilers trounce Panthers, stay alive

Stanley Cup Final Game 4 recap, winners, losers as Oilers trounce Panthers, stay alive

Edmonton Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch made a subtle comment Saturday morning that he was looking forward to the next 10 days.

Ten days, by the way, would take the NHL playoffs through Game 7.

The Oilers took one step toward that with an 8-1 rout of the Florida Panthers in Game 4 that kept their season alive and cut their deficit in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final to 3-1.

Knoblauch’s adjustments played a role. He moved Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to the Leon Draisaitl line and both broke their point droughts. He put his third line out first to keep Aleksander Barkov away from Edmonton’s top lines. The third line chipped in two early goals.

Connor McDavid and Darnell Nurse also got their first goals of the Final, the Edmonton power play finally connected and goalie Stuart Skinner bounced back with a 32-save performance after a subpar Game 3.

Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his goal with teammates in the second period against the Florida Panthers.

Edmonton, which had plenty of chances in Games 1 and 3 only to be thwarted by Sergei Bobrovsky, chased the Panthers goalie in the second period. He allowed five goals on 16 shots.

“We felt like we were going to find a way to score some goals,” McDavid told Sportsnet. “And we did tonight. We’ve got to repeat it.”

The Panthers have two days to figure out what happened before they host Game 5 Tuesday night in Sunrise, Florida, and try again to clinch their first Stanley Cup championship.

“I don’t believe in momentum at all,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said.

A closer look at Game 4:

Game 4 highlights

Game 4 winners and losers

Winners

Connor McDavid, Oilers: Edmonton needed its best players to be its best players in order to stay alive. McDavid had four points and picked up his 32nd assist of the playoffs to break Wayne Gretzky’s 1988 record.

Mattias Janmark, Oilers: He started the scoring with a short-handed goal and made a nice pass on the Adam Henrique goal.

Stuart Skinner, Oilers: Plenty of players had breakthroughs, but Skinner’s save on Carter Verhaeghe after Vladimir Tarasenko cut the Panthers’ deficit to 2-1 in the first period was huge. If he doesn’t stop that, it’s a different game.

Losers

The Panthers overall: This was the worst performance by a team in position to sweep a championship round since the Boston Celtics lost 122-84 to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals on Friday night.

Panthers’ team defense: Their forechecking scheme leaves them susceptible to odd-man rushes unless they support it as a five-man unit. The Panthers were disjointed on Saturday and the Oilers exploited that.

Panthers’ discipline: Florida’s one positive early in the game was its continued strong penalty killing. But Florida picked up two roughing penalties for a 5-on-3 disadvantage that led to an Oilers power play goal.

Oilers 8, Panthers 1: Final score

The eight goals are the most allowed by the Panthers this season and the most since they lost 9-3 to Vegas in the Golden Knights’ clinching Game 5 of the 2023 Stanley Cup Final.

Oilers 8, Panthers 1: Ryan McLeod scores

He rips a shot past Anthony Stolarz. Dylan Holloway picks up an assist.

Oilers 7, Panthers 1: Dylan Holloway scores

It’s his second goal of the game and Connor McDavid’s fourth point of the night. With 32 assists in the playoffs, he has broken Wayne Gretzky’s playoff record.

More penalties

The Oilers kill a penalty to Darnell Nurse and Florida’s Aaron Ekblad is called for slashing.

Panthers go on power play

Mattias Janmark, who scored short-handed in the first period, is called for hooking Aleksander Barkov. Edmonton kills it off and has allowed just one power-play goal in the final.

Third period underway

The game is out of hand, so the Panthers need to focus on having a good third period as they prepare for the inevitable Game 5.

Connor McDavid ties NHL record

McDavid had two assists in the second period to give him 31 this postseason. That ties Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky (1988) for most in a single postseason.

Oilers 6, Panthers 1: End of second period

More continues to go right for the Oilers and wrong for the Panthers. Edmonton gets a power-play goal, Connor McDavid, Darnell Nurse and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins get their first goals of the final. Florida shows lack of discipline to go two men down.

Oilers 6, Panthers 1: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scores

He fires in a rebound for his first goal and point of the final. And it’s the Oilers’ first power play goal of the series. Leon Draisaitl gets another point. Everything is going right for Edmonton.

Panthers go two men short

Sam Bennett and Matthew Tkachuk are called for roughing.

Panthers kill off penalty

So the Panthers still have that going for them. But they’re being outshot 11-1 in the second period.

Oilers go on power play

Florida’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson slashes Connor Brown. Let’s see if the Oilers power play can break through.

Oilers 5, Panthers 1: Darnell Nurse scores, Sergei Bobrovsky pulled

Defenseman Darnell Nurse, who also had been struggling, gets his first goal of the playoffs. Coach Paul Maurice pulls Sergei Bobrovsky and Anthony Stolarz is in the net for his first playoff appearance.

Oilers 4, Panthers 1: Connor McDavid scores

More good news for the Oilers. Connor McDavid gets his first goal of the series. Again, the Oilers’ speed pays off. Zach Hyman gets his first point of the final.

Second period underway

Oilers will try to build on their good start.

Oilers’ Stuart Skinner off to good start

He has 13 saves so far, including robbing Carter Verhaeghe. This follows a Game 3 in which Skinner gave up four goals on 23 shots and had a turnover.

Oilers 3, Panthers 1: End of first period

The Oilers used their speed to their advantage in the first period. It led to odd-man rushes, a short-handed goal and two other scores. Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch’s decision to mix up his top two lines works as Leon Draisaitl gets an assist for his first point of the final. The Oilers have outscored the Panthers 5-1 over the past two periods.

Oilers 3, Panthers 1: Dylan Holloway scores

The bigger news is that Leon Draisaitl picks up his first point of the Stanley Cup Final with an assist on Dylan Holloway’s goal at 14:48. Nice move by Holloway. The Oilers, in fewer than 15 minutes, have matched their top output of the series.

Big save by Oilers’ Stuart Skinner

He stops Florida’s Carter Verhaeghe on a 2-on-1 break. The Oilers and Skinner needed that.

Oilers 2, Panthers 1: Vladimir Tarasenko scores

Edmonton’s Cody Ceci doesn’t get the puck out of the zone. Gustav Forsling intercepts and his shot is tipped by Tarasenko. That’s goals in back-to-back games for Tarasenko.

Oilers 2, Panthers 0: Adam Henrique scores

Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch started the third line and it’s been impressive so far. Goal and an assist for Janmark. He beat a Panthers defender and fed Henrique at 7:48.

Panthers kill penalty

Leon Draisaitl hits the post on a one-timer. The Panthers are now 11-for-11 on the penalty kill in the final.

Oilers go on power play

Panthers are called for too many men on the ice. Edmonton still seeking its first power play goal this series.

Sam Bennett, meanwhile, has returned to the game.

Oilers 1, Panthers 0: Mattias Janmark scores

The Panthers hit the post on back-to-back shots on the power play. The Oilers get a 2-on-1 break and Janmark scores short-handed after a Connor Brown pass. It’s Janmark’s second short-handed goal of the playoffs.

Darnell Nurse penalized

Florida’s Sam Bennett is heading to the dressing room after a knee-on-knee hit from Edmonton’s Darnell Nurse. It was reviewed for a major, but Nurse gets two minutes for tripping.

First period underway

Game 4 is officially underway.

Starting lineups

At least to begin the game, Selke Trophy winner Aleksander Barkov won’t be out against Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl. Edmonton is using its checking line against Barkov, who had two points in Game 3. Evan Rodrigues is on the Barkov line for the second consecutive game. Florida’s Carter Verhaeghe will be on the second line again.

Florida Panthers’ starting lineup

C – Aleksander Barkov

W – Sam Reinhart

W – Evan Rodrigues

D – Brandon Montour

D – Niko Mikkola

G – Sergei Bobrovsky

Edmonton Oilers’ starting lineup

C – Adam Henrique

W – Mattias Janmark

W – Connor Brown

D – Evan Bouchard

D – Mattias Ekholm

G – Stuart Skinner

When is Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final?

Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on Saturday at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta.

How to watch Stanley Cup Final Game 4

Game 4 will be shown nationally on ABC in the United States. It will be shown on Sportsnet and CBC in Canada.

How to stream Stanley Cup Final Game 4

Game 4 can be streamed on ESPN+ and Fubo.

Line shuffling for Oilers

Warren Foegele skated with Connor McDavid and Zach Hyman during warmups, according to NHL Network. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, usually on that top line, was skating with Leon Draisaitl. Nugent-Hopkins and Draisaitl are still looking for their first point of the final.

Warmups underway

Edmonton’s Evander Kane is not out there and is listed among the scratches. He missed Game 3 with an injury.

What is the expected goaltending matchup?

Oilers’ Stuart Skinner (11-8, 2.59 goals-against average, .893 save percentage) vs. Panthers’ Sergei Bobrovsky (15-5, 2.07, .916)

Panthers, Oilers keys to victory in Game 4

Panthers: Repeat their successful formula. Aggressive forechecking with support from all five skaters on the ice. Pounce on mistakes. Timely saves from Sergei Bobrovsky. That’s how they managed to shut down the Oilers’ stars and others before them in the playoffs.

Oilers: Shoot high on Bobrovsky and get more traffic in front of him. That’s how they scored three goals against him last game.

More keys to victory can be found here

When was the last sweep in the Stanley Cup Final?

The Detroit Red Wings swept the Washington Capitals in 1998. Sweeps were relatively common in the 1990s. The 1992 Pittsburgh Penguins swept the Chicago Blackhawks, the 1996 Colorado Avalanche swept the Panthers and the 1997 Red Wings swept the Philadelphia Flyers.

Florida Panthers’ record in potential clinching games this postseason

They are 3-2, losing their first opportunities against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins. But they won their second chance and beat the Rangers on their first opportunity.

Edmonton Oilers’ record in potential elimination games this postseason

They are 2-0, winning in Games 6 and 7 against the Vancouver Canucks in the second round.

Florida Panthers’ Game 4 record this postseason

They are 2-1, losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning and beating the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers.

Edmonton Oilers’ Game 4 record this postseason

They are 3-0, beating the Los Angeles Kings, Vancouver Canucks and Dallas Stars.

When was the last time the Florida Panthers swept a playoff series?

They swept the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2023 Eastern Conference final.

When was the last time the Edmonton Oilers were swept?

The Colorado Avalanche swept them in the 2022 Western Conference final. The Winnipeg Jets swept them in the first round in 2021.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Stanley Cup Finals highlights: Oilers crush Panthers in Game 4

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