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  • Writer's pictureWyatt Bose

Panthers in Prostration, Oilers force Game 7

The Edmonton Oilers hosted the Florida Panthers for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final on Friday night. Edmonton trailed 3-2 in the series and came out guns blazing, backed by their home crowd.

In the first period, the Oilers put 11 shots on goal to Florida’s two, the lowest for the Panthers in one period all season. 7:27 into the game, Oilers’ center Leon Draisaitl found right-wing Warren Foegele on a beautiful back door feed for the game’s first goal. Edmonton took a 1-0 lead into the first break, and they were eager for more in the second period.

Just 0:46 into the second period, Oilers’ center Adam Henrique scored off a cross-ice pass from center Mattias Janmark. Defenseman Mattias Ekholm caught the Panthers’ rotation off guard by sending the puck down the ice to Janmark who fed it to Henrique before Florida could get back. The Oilers led 2-0 for exactly five seconds until the Panthers immediately answered on center Aleksander Barkov's rebound goal. At least, it looked like they did.

Edmonton would challenge Barkov’s goal for offsides, and they would win the challenge. As center Carter Verhaeghe entered the offensive zone with the puck, center Sam Reinhart crossed the blue line just milliseconds before. On the ABC broadcast, it was seemingly too close to overturn, but the replay center has access to other camera angles and synchronous reviews to ensure certainty. Barkov’s goal was overturned, and Florida’s head coach Paul Maurice was livid, as were many Panthers' fans.

Later in the second period, with just 1:40 until the break, left-wing Zach Hyman scored a backhand goal to put the Oilers up 3-0 on an assist from center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Edmonton would take a comfortable 3-0 lead into the second break.

1:28 into the third period, Florida decided to punch back. Barkov scored his second of the night – and first that counted – to reduce Edmonton’s lead to 3-1. Barkov weaved through three Oilers’ defensemen and finished the play with a clean wrist shot into the top left corner of the net. However, Barkov's performance in Game 6 would not be enough to overcome Edmonton’s early three goals. The Panthers pulled Sergei Bobrovsky with just under 4:00 remaining in the game, and the Oilers scored twice within 12 seconds. Edmonton won 5-1, showcasing complete dominance.

As if things could get worse for Florida, perhaps the most concerning takeaway from Game 6 is that Connor McDavid did not register a point, and the Oilers still scored five goals. McDavid recorded eight points in the last two games for Edmonton and has been the focal point of Florida’s defense. However, if the Oilers can win without McDavid recording a point, the Panthers are in trouble.

It’s hard to believe that Edmonton once trailed 3-0 in this series, especially considering how dominant they have been in the last three games. The Oilers have scored 16 goals in their last three games while holding Florida to just five in that same span. Now the pressure is on Florida to regroup and win a Game 7 at home to avoid the ultimate embarrassment, a blown 3-0 lead. Only the 1942 Detroit Red Wings have blown a 3-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Final, and the 2024 Florida Panthers are one game away from joining them.

The most exciting words in sports:

Game 7.

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