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2024 Stanley Cup Final

Florida Panthers Burned by Edmonton Special Teams



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Kevin Stenlund and Aaron Ekblad react after Edmonton Oilers scored a power-play goal in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on Tuesday in Sunrise. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

FORT LAUDERDALE — Coming into the Stanley Cup Final, if the Edmonton Oilers were to have any success against the Florida Panthers, it would need to get their power play going and stay strong on the penalty kill.

Well, doing just that has been their recipe for wins in the past two games.

Most coaches, including Paul Maurice, do not believe in momentum.

If they did, they would say that momentum has swung big time.

Not only have the Oilers scored three goals on the power play, but they have held Florida scoreless on seven power-play chances — not to mention scored two shorthanded goals.

In Florida’s three wins?

It got a power-play goal from Evan Rodrigues and stopped all 10 of Edmonton’s chances with the man advantage.

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Although Florida got away with out doing much on the power play in taking a 3-0 lead on the Oilers, Edmonton got three of the four goals its needed in Game 5 due to its special teams play.

Connor McDavid had a hand in both of Edmonton’s power-play goals; a soft pass from Brandon Montour led to the shorthanded goal which gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead.

Edmonton became the first time in Cup Final history to score its first goal in successive games while killing off a penalty.

“Shorties always hurt you. And starting off? Yeah, that’s clearly not what we’d like to do,’’ said Paul Maurice, whose team has given up five shorthanded goals this postseason.

“You get the excitement of a rare power play, and you get out there and you end up digging into out of your net. That hurts you a little bit for sure.”

Florida is 1-for-16 on the power play in this series, and, Maurice hinted at some changes to come.

Late Tuesday, he put Oliver Ekman-Larsson back atop the first power-play unit.

“The power play is its own animal,’’ Maurice said. “We had two kind of line changes that we didn’t make that I think we could have made. I liked our kill. They got it right at the end, the kills are almost over. I was happy with that power play clearly. Small steps; we’ll start with not giving them shorthanded breakaways and then we’ll move on from there.’’

After going down 3-0, Edmonton coach Kris Knoblauch said he thought “there’s a lot of belief,’’ pointing to the team’s slow start this season and the multiple hot streaks to get to the playoffs.

The Oilers are on a hot streak now, and the Panthers will be challenged to stop them.

Florida’s 5-on-5 play is still strong. They know they need to do something about the special teams.

“We were counted out a lot through the playoffs, regular season, whatever,” Knoblauch said, “but it doesn’t phase the group in there. They’ve got a lot of belief and just enjoying every extra day.”

More FHN Coverage of the Florida Panthers:

Panthers Lead Best of 7 Series 3-2

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