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Edmonton's top players found life in Game 4. Should that concern the Panthers?

Jordan McPherson, Miami Herald on

Published in Hockey

The Florida Panthers managed to keep the Edmonton Oilers’ top players at bay through the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final. It’s a big reason they were able to take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-7 series and put themselves within one win of hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history.

In Game 4 on Saturday, with Edmonton’s season on the line, its Oilers’ stars shone the brightest in an 8-1 rout of the Panthers at Rogers Place.

Connor McDavid scored his first goal of the series and had four points total, with his three assists giving him 32 total for the playoffs — breaking Wayne Gretzky’s mark from 1988 of 31 assists for most in a single postseason.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also scored his first goal of the series on a 5-on-3 power play. Zach Hyman and Leon Draisaitl had two assists each for their first points of the series. Dylan Holloway, playing on the second line with Nugent-Hopkins and Draisaitl, scored twice.

But how much will their performance impact or concern the Panthers moving forward, with Florida needing to win just one of three possible remaining games and Edmonton needing to go a perfect 3 for 3?

Not much, according to Panthers coach Paul Maurice.

“They will have no part of my day [Sunday],” Maurice said. “They’re good players and they scored and they should get confidence from that. They’ll feel good. And then the puck’s gonna drop. I’m not saying they aren’t gonna feel good when the puck drops, but everything changes then. We’re gonna rally. We’ll recover, move forward, get ready.”

 

This and that

— The Panthers have allowed 35 shots on goal in each of the past two games. Prior to the two games in Edmonton, they had not allowed the opponent to take more than 32 shots on goal in any game this postseason and held the opponent to fewer than 30 shots on goal in 15 of the first 19 games.

— Saturday was the third time the Panthers have given up at least eight goals in a playoff game — and each of the other two instances also came in the Stanley Cup Final. The Vegas Golden Knights won the Cup last year with a 9-3 shelling of Florida in Game 5. Meanwhile, the Colorado Avalanche crushed Florida in Game 2 of the 1996 series with an 8-1 win en route to their four-game sweep that year.

— The Oilers’ first goal of the game, by Mattias Janmark, came shorthanded. It was the fourth shorthanded goal the Panthers have allowed this postseason.

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