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Panthers continue to beat Oiilers 4-3 to take a 3-0 lead in the Stanley Cup final

EDMONTON – Connor McDavid’s dream of hoisting a Stanley Cup this spring is turning into a nightmare.

EDMONTON – Connor McDavid’s dream of hoisting a Stanley Cup this spring is turning into a nightmare.

Sergei Bobrovsky made 32 saves as the Florida Panthers defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 on Thursday to take a 3-0 chokehold in the best-of-seven title series.

Aleksander Barkov and Sam Reinhart, with a goal and an assist each, Vladimir Tarasenko and Sam Bennett scored for Florida, which has smothered McDavid and the Oilers’ offense through nine periods.

And every time the Oilers have had a look — aside from brief spikes like Thursday’s third period after trailing 4-1 — Bobrovsky has been nearly perfect.

Warren Foegele, Philip Broberg and Ryan McLeod responded for Edmonton. Stuart Skinner stopped 19 shots. McDavid had two assists.

The Panthers can win their first Cup on Saturday at Rogers Place. Game 5 would be Tuesday at Amerant Bank Arena if necessary.

Florida, which lost to the Vegas Golden Knights last spring, is looking to become just the third team in the NHL’s post-1967 expansion era to hoist hockey’s holy grail after losing the finals last year by joining the Oilers (1984) and Pittsburgh Penguins (2009).

The Oilers, meanwhile, are hoping to avoid becoming the first team to be swept in the championship round since the 1998 Washington Capitals.

Barkov came into action after taking a forearm to the jaw from Oilers center Leon Draisaitl in the third period of Florida’s 4-1 win Monday. Edmonton was without winger Evander Kane (sports hernia), but defenseman Darnell Nurse (suspected hip injury) was able to get started.

With the game tied at 1-1 after Foegele, who was ejected from Game 2 for kneeling, scored his second goal of the playoffs under Bobrovsky’s glove at 1:49 of the middle period, the netminder made big stops on Zach Hyman and McDavid in a frothing Rogers Place. .

The Panthers then took advantage of a Skinner foul at the other end of the rink when he failed to stop a puck behind his net. Eetu Luostarinen won a race with Cody Ceci and found Tarasenko in front for his fourth at 9:12.

The nurse committed another turnover that led to Matthew Tkachuk passing to Bennett, who connected on his seventh at 13:57.

Barkov added to Edmonton’s misery on a breakaway 1:34 later to make it 4-1 — and further silence the orange-and-blue-clad crowd.

Broberg gave the Oilers some life at 6:02 of the second when the rookie defenseman fired his first goal over Bobrovsky.

McLeod made it 4-3 at 2:43 with his second off a deflection to breathe life into Rogers Place.

Bobrovsky then denied the winger’s equalizer from close range, and the Panthers held on despite some nerve-wracking moments.

Reinhart opened the scoring with 62 seconds left in the opening period, with the teams playing 4-on-4 after a big scrum around Bobrovsky’s net.

The winger, who scored 57 times in the regular season, sent Gustav Forsling’s feed past Skinner for his ninth of the post-season after good work from Barkov.

The Oilers had plenty of chances before Florida’s breakthrough, but Bobrovsky was there every time.

Connor Brown had two short chances, while a pair of power play opportunities failed to connect despite a series of good looks for McDavid, Bouchard and Leon Draisaitl.

Bobrovsky’s best save came on a cross-ice pass from Draisaitl to McDavid, who has 33 points in the playoffs but only two assists in this series, which the goaltender read perfectly.

DRAISAITL RECEIVES

The big German avoided additional discipline for the action in Game 2, taking Barkov out of the action.

“I am not a player who plays with the intention of injuring anyone in any way,” Draisaitl, who has never been suspended, said Thursday morning. “I have no experience with that. I’m not a player who enjoys that part of the game: injuring other players or something like that. I caught him in an unfortunate spot.”

DAVIES IN THE HOUSE

Canadian soccer star Alphonso Davies, who grew up in Edmonton, was at Rogers Place to support the Oilers ahead of the Copa America tournament later this month.

TRAVEL SOMEWHERE

The Panthers were delayed three hours in their arrival in Edmonton on Wednesday due to a massive storm that drenched the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area.

Florida head coach Paul Maurice downplayed the potential impact on his team, but added there was a downside.

“The coaches gained seven pounds,” he joked. “That’s the only consequence: we ate twelve meals.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 13, 2024.

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Follow @JClipperton_CP on X.

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

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