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McDavid leads Oilers to Game 5 win to stay alive in Stanley Cup Final

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The Oilers are dragging the Panthers back to Alberta.

Connor McDavid is the overwhelming reason why.

The superstar captain had two goals and two assists as Edmonton held on for a 5-3 victory Tuesday to cut Florida's lead in the Stanley Cup final to 3-2.

Connor Brown, Zach Hyman and Corey Perry also scored for the Oilers, who have won two straight — including an 8-1 whitewash on home ice in Game 4 — facing elimination after dropping the best-of-seven series' first three contests.

Stuart Skinner made 30 saves. Evan Bouchard had three assists.

Matthew Tkachuk and Evan Rodrigues, with a goal and an assist each, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson replied for Florida. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 19 shots for the Panthers, a group now feeling the squeeze following consecutive losses with the Cup in the building and a chance to clinch the franchise's first-ever title.

Game 6 in a championship round with the furthest distance between cities in NHL history at more than 4,000 kilometres goes Friday in Edmonton. Game 7, if necessary, would be Monday back in South Florida.

Florida Panthers centre Eetu Luostarinen skates with the puck as Edmonton Oilers defenceman Cody Ceci (5) and forward Leon Draisaitl (29) give chase during Game 5 of the NHL Stanley Cup Final on June 18, 2024, in Sunrise, Fla. (Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press)McDavid's 42 points this spring already represents the fourth-best individual playoff performance in league history behind Wayne Gretzky (47 points, 1984-85), Mario Lemieux (44 points, 1990-91) and Gretzky (43 points, 1987-88).

The 27-year-old's eight points in Cup elimination games — he put up four Saturday — also set the record for one title series.

The Oilers are looking to capture their first Cup in 34 years — and the first for a Canadian team since the Montreal Canadiens won in 1993.

The five-time winners are also aiming to become just the fifth team in NHL history to come back from a 3-0 deficit and win a series. The 1942 Toronto Maple are the only club to accomplish the feat in a final.

The Panthers came out of the gates flying at Amerant Bank Arena, forcing Skinner to make big stops on both Sam Reinhart and Aaron Ekblad in the opening moments.

Florida went to the power play a few minutes later, but the Oilers scored their second short-handed goal in as many games to open the scoring — a first in the history of the final.

Edmonton Oilers winger Connor Brown (28) controls the puck as Florida Panthers centre Anton Lundell (15) defends during Game 5 of the NHL Stanley Cup Final on June 18, 2024, in Sunrise, Fla. (Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press)Brown, who waited until his 55th contest to score this season, intercepted a no-look pass by Panthers defenceman Brandon Montour at Edmonton's blue line and outraced Aleksander Barkov before making a deke to the backhand on an outstretched Bobrovsky for his second goal of the playoffs at 5:30.

The Oilers' struggling man advantage had two minutes of fresh ice and a number of looks to start the second before finally breaking through at 5-on-4 when Bouchard's blast hit Hyman in front for his playoff-leading 15th at 1:58.

McDavid then snuck his seventh under Bobrovsky — suddenly human after stopping 82-of-86 shots through the first three games — from a sharp angle at the five-minute mark for a 3-1 lead.

Tkachuk got Florida on the board 1:53 later when he fired his sixth, and first since May 22, upstairs.

Edmonton struck late on another power play at 11:54 when McDavid wove into the offensive zone and found Perry on a spectacular setup for the veteran winger's first.

Rodrigues scored his seventh of the post-season, and fourth of the final, 1:16 later to make it 4-2.

Ekman-Larsson brought the Panthers to within one at 4:04 of the third period with his second before McDavid iced it into the empty net to force Game 6.

A group that rebounded after starting the season 2-9-1, came back from three deficits against the Vancouver Canucks in the second round of the playoffs, and fell behind the Dallas Stars 2-1 in the Western Conference final, the Oilers now sit just two wins from improbable glory.

Edmonton Oilers forward Mattias Janmark attempts a goal on an empty net as Florida Panthers forward Carter Verhaeghe tries to stop him during the third period of Game 5 of the NHL Stanley Cup Final on June 18, 2024, in Sunrise, Fla. The Oilers defeated the Panthers 5-3. (Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press)

Drag 'em back

McDavid was the first Edmonton player to use the phrase "drag 'em back to Alberta" after Game 4 before Brown uttered the same words Tuesday morning.

"You (media members) have been doing the flight — it's a long flight," McDavid said when asked about the rallying cry. "You guys know what it's like. It's not the most enjoyable flight, so just make (the Panthers) go on one more plane ride."

Story time

A published author of two children's books, Hyman was asked if he's penning another work on the team's push through adversity this season.

"We have a job to do first," he said. "It would make for a heck of a story … so let's go do it."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 18, 2024.  

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