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The Oilers' 8 goals got all the attention, but Skinner was 'amazing' in Game 4


The most important play of Game 4 arguably came with just under eight minutes to go in the first period.

The Edmonton Oilers scored the first two goals of the game but Vladimir Tarasenko had just pulled one back for the Florida Panthers, who needed just one win to lift the Stanley Cup at Rogers Place.

"We'll see if that changes the momentum of this opening period," play-by-play commentator Chris Cuthbert said after Tarasenko's goal.

Seconds later, the Panthers get an odd-man rush and Sam Bennett finds a wide open Carter Verhaeghe.

The momentum appeared to be swinging in favour of the Panthers, but Skinner made a diving save across the net.

The Edmonton crowd exploded and an enthusiastic Cuthbert said, "Stuart Skinner with some of his best work of the playoffs."

The Oilers scored another goal two minutes later and chased Sergei Bobrovsky in the second period on their way to an 8-1 win. Skinner made 32 saves.

"It was a good time to make that save, to say the least," Skinner told reporters in South Florida on Monday. "I was just able to get across, make the save. In moments like that, you try your absolute hardest just to get over and get big and the puck was able to hit me. The rest of the game happened. It was a lot of fun."

It hasn't always been fun for Skinner during the current Stanley Cup Playoffs. He was pulled in Game 3 of the second-round series against the Vancouver Canucks and remained on the bench for the following two games.

He returned for Games 6 and 7, two elimination games where he was huge for the Oilers with 29 saves and only three goals allowed.

"I think what happened in Vancouver did a number of things to me. I think it pissed me off, first and foremost. I also was able to get some time to myself. Just get a reset, calm things down, work on my game," Skinner said.

"It really sucked being on the bench.

"Going through something like that, it's funny. In the moment it seems like the worst thing ever. And then a couple weeks later you look back on it, it's nothing but grateful and thankful for that moment."

On Monday, head coach Kris Knoblauch praised Skinner for elevating his game in the second half of every series so far.

"Overall the first three games [against Dallas] were pretty good. And then he was outstanding, and then he took his game to another level," Knoblauch said.

"First three games [of the Stanley Cup Final], not that anything was bad, but it wasn't the level that I've seen him play up until Game 4. And in Game 4 he took it to another level."

Leon Draisaitl said Skinner was "amazing."

"I think he's been great for a long stretch here now. He's given us a chance every night. It's really all you can ask for."

Bobrovsky received all the praise at the start of the series, and rightly so, as he virtually won Games 1 and 3 for the Panthers.

But after Edmonton's blowout win in Game 4, the two goalies are nearly neck and neck in save percentage (.912 for Bobrovsky, .901 for Skinner) saves (93 and 91) and goals allowed (9 and 10).

"If we're getting the puck luck like we did and puck's going in, and Stu's playing the way he is, we gotta be really optimistic," Knoblauch said. Top Stories

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