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Oilers guns wake up to chase Bobrovsky in Game 4 win

Edmonton Oilers' goalie Stuart Skinner (74) and Mattias Janmark (13) celebrate defeating the Florida Panthers in Game 4 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup final in Edmonton, Saturday, June 15, 2024.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh Edmonton Oilers' goalie Stuart Skinner (74) and Mattias Janmark (13) celebrate defeating the Florida Panthers in Game 4 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup final in Edmonton, Saturday, June 15, 2024.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
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They got to him. Finally.

It did start in the third period of the previous game, when the Edmonton Oilers scored twice on Sergei Bobrovsky in the eventual Florida Panthers win in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.

In Game 4, they picked up where they left off.

Edmonton chased goalie Bobrovsky after their fifth goal in 16 shots — Darnell Nurse's wrister from the slot on a Connor McDavid drop pass — five minutes into the second period, with the Panthers turning to backup (and one-time Oiler) Anthony Stolarz to mop up the rest of the 8-1 Oilers win.

And while the Panthers are still very much in control of the best-of-seven championship series, leading it three games to one, to finally solve the goalie earmarked as a favourite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy heading into the potential Cup-clinching game in such convincing fashion should give them confidence heading into Tuesday's Game 5 in Florida.

The Oilers' flood of scoring was foreshadowed at puck drop, when head coach Kris Knoblauch gave the third line of Adam Henrique, Connor Brown and Mattias Janmark the start.

Janmark factored on the initial two Oilers goals, and Brown took the puck up ice often in Game 4.

Janmark scored the first one shorthanded on a feed from the swift Brown, Henrique the second on a tap-in of a feed from Janmark.

'Can't always be the big boys'

Knoblauch said the play of Brown has steadily improved over the season after he started it with a long scoring drought but has continued to blossom through the post-season.

"It's what we anticipated, what we wanted for him," Knoblauch said post-game.

"Also, when him and Janmark play together, they've and whoever their centreman has been — right now, Rico (Henrique) is our guy and we play them all together — but they've definitely been part of our success."

Brown said a team needs "everybody" to contribute to a win.

"It can't always be the big boys. To get us going there with a couple of goals, it's important," Brown said.

"That's what you need."

The 'big boys' — top-liners named Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Zack Hyman — all recorded multiple-point games, McDavid leading the way with a goal and three assists.

Second-line winger Dylan Holloway contributed with two goals and an assist.

The task ahead is still daunting, however. Every game the Oilers play now is an elimination game just like Saturday's big win.

"It's just one win. That's all it is. It doesn't matter if you score eight or you score one," McDavid said following the game. "We're going to Florida and do a job and drag them back to Alberta."

Shout out to Skinner

As much as the Oilers solved Bobrovsky in a convincing fashion, Stuart Skinner helped keep them in it.

Several of his key stops came in the second half of the first period with the Panthers pressing, including a highlight stop on Carter Verhaeghe.

Skinner slid across his crease to get his arm on Verhaeghe's shot on a two-on-one feed from Sam Bennett.

"That would have made it 2-2 and you never know how that might go," McDavid said of Skinner's stop on Verhaeghe with the score 2-1 and less than a minute after Vladimir Tarasenko scored the Panthers' only goal.

"He made some really timely saves. That's as big a save as you're going to get."

Early in the third period, too, with the Panthers on a power play in which they fired six shots his way, Skinner was sharp and snuffed any chances for a Florida spark.

"He made so many key saves at key moments," Knoblauch said. 

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