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Edmonton Oilers' frustration builds with 3-0 deficit in the Stanley Cup Final

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EDMONTON -

Unable to complete a third-period comeback, the Edmonton Oilers find themselves on the brink of elimination despite arguably being the better team in two of the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final against the Florida Panthers.

Coach Kris Knoblauch believes it is a matter of time before his team, led by reigning and three-time NHL MVP Connor McDavid, comes through on the bevy of chances and all the pucks going on net. But time is running out to have that breakthrough, and the frustration was evident after a 4-3 loss in Game 3 on Thursday night.

“It's very frustrating,” Leon Draisaitl said. “We’re obviously firing a lot of shots. We just can’t seem to put it over the goal line.”

The Oilers outshot the Panthers 35-23 and had many more high-danger scoring opportunities than their Game 2 defeat in Florida. They tilted the ice toward Sergei Bobrovsky and cut their deficit from three goals to one with five minutes left but could not crack him one more time to force overtime.

“We’re still getting our looks,” Draisaitl said. "When you’re chasing the game for a big chunk of the night, it’s just hard to come back.”

McDavid alone had five shots on net, including a one-timer after a power play expired that Bobrovsky slid over to stop. He set up Philip Broberg's goal in the third but still has no goals in his first career trip to the final.

This is not on McDavid alone, but he and his teammates are struggling to solve the Panthers before it's too late.

"We’ve had stretches that are good, stretches that are bad," McDavid said. “We’re trying to figure them out, obviously."

Late in Game 3, it looked like they had. More than eight minutes after Broberg scored, Ryan McLeod tipped a puck past Bobrovsky to cut the deficit to one with 5:17 remaining. Pulling goaltender Stuart Skinner for an extra skater kept the pressure on, but the clock hit zeroes and sent Florida into celebration mode with the first title in franchise history now one win away.

No team has been swept in the final since the Washington Capitals in 1998, when the Detroit Red Wings went back to back. The last team to rally from down 3-0 in the final was Toronto in 1942, and it has happened just four times in NHL playoff history.

“It’s a steep hill right now,” Draisaitl said.

A steep hill that the Oilers hope they can begin climbing using the fuel from the almost comeback.

“There’s a difference between frustration and quitting,” Knoblauch said. "There’s absolutely no quit. There’s a belief that we can do this. We just need to keep pushing.”