Edmonton Oilers heading the wrong way in Stanley Cup Final, lose 4-1 in Game 2

If the Oilers felt good about how they took it to the Panthers in Game 1, they are not feeling that way now

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For a while there it looked like the Hockey Gods were going to give the Florida Panthers a taste of their own medicine.

Turns out they were only having a little more fun at the Edmonton Oilers expense.

The hands of fate kept things close for a while, when they shouldn’t have been, but once again it was the Oilers swallowing a bitter defeat, dropping Game 2 of a Stanley Cup Final that seems to be slipping from their desperate grip.

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After losing a Game 1 in which they outplayed the Panthers badly and deserved to win, the Oilers found themselves on the other end of the pressure in a 4-1 game they deserved to lose.

“Sometimes you’re going to run into a hot goalie and that was the case in the first game, they stole that one,” said Oilers winger Zach Hyman. “And this game they played better than we did. They controlled the play for the majority of the game. But, having said that, we had an opportunity to win.”

If the Oilers felt good about how they took it to the Panthers in Game 1, they are not feeling that way now. This time they couldn’t turn a wheel.

“They turned it up a level and we didn’t match it today,” said Oilers captain Connor McDavid. “They’re doing a lot of really good things. They’re making it tough.”

The Oilers were in tough, all right. You’re not winning when you have one shot in the first 11:17 of the first period, one shot in the first 13 minutes of the second and seven shots in the first 40 minutes.

And you’re not winning when you give the other team five power plays.

That the Oilers almost did — it was 1-1 after 40 and 2-1 midway through the third — is of little consolation now. They’re down 2-0 in the series and have to win four of the next five games against a team that’s outscored them 17-5 in four regular season and playoff meetings.

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Things just turned from frustrating to dire: According to the NHL, teams that go up 2-0 in a Stanley Cup Final win the series 91 per cent of the time (49-5). The last team to do it was the 2011 Boston Bruins.

SLOW START

In a flip of the script from Game 1, where Edmonton outshot Florida 32-18 and lost 3-0, this time it was Florida wondering when the law of averages was going to catch up with the flow of play.

Edmonton Oilers Florida Panthers
SUNRISE, FLORIDA – JUNE 10: Mattias Ekholm #14 of the Edmonton Oilers celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Florida Panthers during the first period in Game Two of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final at Amerant Bank Arena on June 10, 2024 in Sunrise, Florida. Photo by Elsa /Getty Images

They penned the Oilers in their own end most of the night but trailed 1-0 midway through the second period. Mattias Ekholm scored on Edmonton’s first shot of the game, which didn’t come until 11:17, but beyond that it was Florida controlling the play.

You can only spend so much times on your heels, though, and it caught up with the Oilers 9:34 into the second period when, with the shots 15-5, Niko Mikkola found mesh to tie it and set up a final 20 minutes for Game 2.

With the shots 23-9 in the third period, the Panthers took their first lead of the night on a wrist shot from Evan Rodrigues, made possible by a really soft giveaway from Evan Bouchard, at 3:11.

“I tried to get it out, the guy stopped it and put it in our net,” said Bouchard.

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Rodrigues sealed it on a power play goal with seven minutes left in the game with Leon Draisaitl in the box for a head shot on Aleksander Barkov.

DROPPING FAST

The game turned into a battle of attrition for the Oilers, with Warren Foegele thrown out of the game nine minutes in for kneeing and Darnell Nurse playing just 4:20 after a hit from Rodrigues.

Nurse appeared to hurt his hip on the hit and after returning from the dressing room played one more brief shift in the first period, one in the second and two in the third.

REVERSAL OF FORTUNE

The game looked like it might turn for good on the Foegele major but things actually tilted things in Edmonton’s favour after that. Edmonton only had to kill three minutes because Oliver Ekman-Larsson took a tripping penalty 90 seconds later, and Ekholm scored a soft one on Sergei Bobrovsky on the ensuing four-on-four.

It should have lit a fire under the Oilers, but it didn’t.

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