NHL: Oilers riding high, Panthers hope to rebound in Stanley Cup Game 5


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Game 4 was strike one for the Florida Panthers. They still have three more chances to put away the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Final, beginning with Tuesday’s home clash in Sunrise, Fla.

The Panthers, who lead the best-of-seven series 3-1, saw their first opportunity to clinch the first championship in franchise history disappear in humbling fashion. Instead of securing the crown with a sweep, the Panthers were shellacked 8-1 in Edmonton on Saturday on a night they admittedly did not match the Oilers’ desperation.

“I think we needed to go through that experience,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said Monday. “I mean, we would have traded our experience for a win, but then you have to embrace that learning.”

The Panthers unquestionably received a schooling, but they can take solace in the fact that the Oilers are only credited for one win despite the lopsided result. They have every opportunity to reset before dropping the puck on a night they can clinch in front of their fans.

Florida also can be confident about its ability to bounce back following a blowout loss. During this year’s playoff run, the Panthers have twice before lost by three or more goals. Florida and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky responded with 6-1 victories in their next outing both times.

Putting that disappointment in the past should not be difficult.

“It’s a new game,” Bobrovsky said. “It’s a 0-0 score and I’m getting ready for the next shot.”

“The last two years, we played in eight rounds of the playoffs, so that’s a lot of hockey, a lot of playoff hockey,” forward Carter Verhaeghe added. “We know what to expect and what to expect from ourselves. Experience is definitely something we can draw from.”

The Oilers also have positive history to draw upon before the series resumes. Edmonton was down 3-2 to the Vancouver Canucks in the second round before playing a couple of excellent games to advance to the conference final.

They certainly have a fantastic starting point to build upon in this do-or-die clash.

“There’s been little work to keep the confidence high for this team, they feel good,” Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch said. “Their backs have been against the wall. They’ve been counted out by others who’ve said, ‘They’re done. They’re not that good. It’s over,’ whether that was in November or throughout the playoffs, whenever it is.”

That said, the Oilers are also experienced enough to know the Panthers will be looking to rebound from one of the most one-sided losses of the playoffs and are bracing for the push.

“We can probably take the positives out of that (Game 4) and try to apply that again into our game plan, but certainly, we know that they’re going to be a little bit better,” forward Leon Draisaitl said. “And we can be better in certain areas, as well.”

Being better offensively would be an impressive trick. Led by Connor McDavid’s four-point performance, the Oilers chased Bobrovsky early in the second period after he essentially stymied them at every turn in the first three games of the series.

“It’s always nice to be able to put some in. And when you feel like you’re getting chances and you’re putting a lot of pucks on net and they’re not going in, it’s always nice to break through a little bit,” Edmonton forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said. “That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen (Tuesday) night. We’re going to have to work for it, but if anything, we can take some confidence from it.”

–Field Level Media


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