Oilers look to stave off elimination in Game 4 vs. Panthers

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[June 15, 2024]  The Florida Panthers can raise their first Stanley Cup in team history with a win against the host Edmonton Oilers in Game 4 on Saturday night.

The Panthers didn't come close in their previous two Stanley Cup final appearances, getting swept by the Colorado Avalanche in 1996 and losing in five games to the Vegas Golden Knights last season.

Florida's now in position to post the first finals sweep since the Detroit Red Wings ran over the Washington Capitals in 1998.

"It's there for us, but you don't think about it," Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov said after his team's 4-3 win in Game 3 on Thursday night. "You can't think about it. All we have to do is just take, like, one moment at a time. .... (Friday), we need to recover and get ready for the game. That's about it. We never think too much ahead."

In the Edmonton dressing room, the Oilers are trying to figure out how they've gone from being in position to become the first Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup since the Montreal Canadiens in 1993, to the first Canadian team trying to avoid getting swept since the Oilers in 1983.

Only one NHL has overcome a 3-0 deficit to win the Stanley Cup, the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1942.

"It is disappointing being down 3-0," Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner said. "I'm not too sure what the stats are coming back on it, but if anyone can do it, it's the Oil."

Edmonton's dire situation isn't for lack of opportunities. The Oilers outshot the Panthers 35-23 in Game 3 and 32-17 in the 3-0 loss in Game 1.

"We're firing a lot of shots, we just can't seem to put it over the goal line," Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl said. "We're not sustaining enough pressure."

The leading scorers for Edmonton have been mostly silent.

Draisaitl, who was seventh in the NHL in points during the regular season and is second in the postseason, hasn't produced a point in the finals. Zach Hyman, who scored 54 goals during the regular season, hasn't scored either.

Superstar captain Connor McDavid has three assists, but no goals in the series.

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Jun 13, 2024; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov (16) skates with the puck defended by Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse (25) and defenseman Philip Broberg (86) in the first period in game three of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports



"We can't score on the outside on these guys," McDavid said. "We have to get to the middle."

Florida forward Sam Bennett said slowing down the Edmonton offense has been a team effort.

"Every single guy is committed to playing that defense first and that system of coming back supporting each other," Bennett said. "That's what you need to have success. It's really been just a full commitment from the entire group."

The big guns for the Panthers, meanwhile, have been doing their damage in the series.

Sam Reinhart, who scored 57 goals during the regular season, has a goal and two assists against Edmonton -- including one of each in the Game 3 win.

Barkov had a goal and an assist in the last game after producing two assists in Game 1. He did not play the final 9:28 of Game 2 after taking a hit from Draisaitl.

"I can't say enough good things about the guy," Florida forward Evan Rodrigues said of Barkov. "Just plays the game the right way. Everything about him. He's just down to earth. The best human being. He's our leader. He's our leader for a reason."

--Field Level Media

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