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Edmonton Oilers fall short against even-keeled Florida Panthers, drop Game 1 of Cup Final | National news

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final was an eye-opener for the Edmonton Oilers.

Unlike the Florida Panthers — who only got a taste of the Finals a year ago — only a handful of Oilers players have ever experienced Game 1 of a championship series: The energy. The pressure. The intensity.

It showed, and in Edmonton’s first Cup final since 2006, the Oilers had plenty of chances but couldn’t finish, losing 3-0 to the swarming and suffocating Panthers in Game 1.

For stars like Connor McDavid, a generational talent who has been under pressure since he entered the league nine years ago, the game has started to return to normal.

McDavid showed his unparalleled speed in the opening period when he slipped past Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad for a one-on-one opportunity with goalkeeper Sergei Bobrovsky, but he was denied in a theme that repeated itself all night.

Even McDavid, who leads all postseason scorers with 31 points, couldn’t break through Florida’s defense despite no shortage of opportunities.

The Panthers showed why they made it to the Finals a year ago – and it was clear that the bittersweet memory of losing to the Vegas Golden Knights in five games is still fresh.

In total, Edmonton sent 32 shots at the 35-year-old Bobrovsky. He stopped them all. Even on the rare occasions when the Oilers moved him out of position, the two-time Vezina Trophy winner made big save after big save, which was a clear source of frustration for the Western Conference winners.

Connor Brown tried to put Edmonton on the board in the second period when he wedged the puck under Bobrovsky’s right pad – moments after the goalie saved a wrist shot from Mattias Janmark – but the goal was waved away as it appeared Brown had pushed Bobrovsky . with the puck in the net.

Then a brief scuffle broke out and a frustrated Janmark and Brown were both awarded penalties, along with the Panthers’ Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Kevin Stenlund.

It was an example of the Oilers doing the right things to win, but not enough.

They extended their career-best penalty kill streak to 30, negating all three of Florida’s power plays.

But their power play, which had been so effective throughout the postseason, was fruitless. Edmonton, which entered the game with a 37.3% postseason lead, was 0 for 3 on the man advantage Saturday night.

AP NHL Playoffs: and

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