SI:AM | Sloppy Oilers on the Brink of Being Swept by Panthers in Stanley Cup Final 

Edmonton couldn’t overcome its own mistakes and is now down 3–0. 
McDavid, who was Edmonton's top goal-scorer during the regular season, has yet to score in the Stanley Cup Final.
McDavid, who was Edmonton's top goal-scorer during the regular season, has yet to score in the Stanley Cup Final. / Perry Nelson/USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, I’m Dan Gartland. Are we really going to get sweeps in the NBA and NHL finals?

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🏌️‍♂️ U.S. Open update
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🏊 Olympic Trials preview

Canada’s Stanley Cup drought looks likely to continue

In some ways, Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Thursday night was the best showing the Edmonton Oilers have had in the series. But unfortunately for them, they were still plagued by the same issues that sunk them in the first two games, losing to the Florida Panthers, 4–3, and falling behind in the series three games to none. 

The wheels started to come off in the second period, when the Panthers scored three goals in just over six minutes to take a commanding 4–1 lead. The demoralizing stretch began with a brutal goal allowed by Edmonton goalie Stuart Skinner, who left his crease to play the puck behind but couldn’t corral it and failed to get back between the pipes before Vladimir Tarasenko fired a shot past him. Florida’s second goal of the period came off a giveaway by Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse. The third came on a two-on-one opportunity after Edmonton’s Mattias Ekholm was slow to get back on the rush. 

“After they got that second one, they just kind of got on a roll,” Skinner said. “We let them take that momentum and stride with it. They got two more quick ones—just kind of silly mistakes that [don’t] need to happen.”

The Panthers simply aren’t making mistakes like that, and that’s why they’re up 3–0 in the series. Those sort of miscues have been routine for Edmonton, though. Evan Rodrigues scored the tie-breaking goal in the third period of Game 2 off of an Edmonton turnover. The first goal of the series came after Oilers star Connor McDavid—one of the fastest players in the NHL—was uncharacteristically caught flat-footed and allowed an odd-man rush for Florida. 

The Oilers managed to mount a valiant comeback in the third period, scoring twice to cut the deficit to 4–3, but the Panthers did an excellent job clamping down defensively in the final minutes to seal the victory. 

Florida goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was fantastic once again, stopping 32 of the 35 shots he faced. The three goals he allowed were next to impossible to stop. The first came on a breakaway, the second deflected off the elbow of a defender into the net and the third was tipped in on a shot from the point. 

The Oilers have outshot the Panthers 86–70 in the series, but Bobrovsky’s incredible saves have kept his team ahead. The most notable in Game 3 came with just over four minutes left in the game when McDavid threaded a pass between Bobrovsky’s legs and found Ryan McLeod open just in front of the crease. A sprawling Bobrovsky made a pad save to preserve the lead. 

“It’s very frustrating,” Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl said after the game. “We’re obviously firing a lot of shots. We just can’t seem to put it over the goal line.”

The Oilers top four regular-season goal-scorers (Zach Hyman, Draisaitl, McDavid and Evander Kane) have all failed to find the back of the net in the series. Part of that is because Edmonton’s previously well-oiled power play has been completely shut down in the series. After converting on 37.3% of man-up opportunities in the first three rounds of the playoffs, the Oilers are 0-for-10 in the final after getting shut out on three opportunities in Game 3. 

Thursday night was the Oilers’ best showing of the series, but it still wasn’t enough to pick up the victory. And now they face the unenviable task of trying to come back from a 3–0 series deficit, something that hasn’t been accomplished in the Stanley Cup Final since 1942 and has happened only four times total in NHL history. 

Rory McIlroy prepares to putt on the 18th green at Pinehurst during the 2024 U.S. Open.
McIlroy, who has not won a major in a decade, took a share of the first-round lead at the U.S. Open on Thursday. / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

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Dan Gartland


Dan Gartland is the writer and editor of Sports Illustrated’s flagship daily newsletter, SI:AM, covering everything an educated sports fan needs to know. Previously published on Deadspin and Slate, Dan also is a former Sports Jeopardy! champion (Season 1, Episode 5).