Edmonton Oilers pulling away, now one win from Stanley Cup Final

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Everything is bigger in Texas, including the gap between the Edmonton Oilers and a Dallas Stars team that’s starting to choke on their dust.

In a series that looked too close to call when it began, the Oilers scored eight-straight goals over the last two games — the last five of Game 4 and the first three of Game 5 — to pull farther away from the only thing standing between them and the Stanley Cup Final.

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Friday 3-1 win, a game that was never really close until Dallas finally got on the board late in the third period, comes on the heels of a 5-2 spanking in Game 4 and gives Edmonton a 3-2 series lead and a chance to punch their ticket to the final Sunday night at Rogers Place.

It’s so close they can taste it.

And they looked as good doing it as they have at any other time in the playoffs.

“Everybody was solid,” said Oilers captain Connor McDavid. “Right from the goalie out I thought everybody played really well. It was as close (to their best game) as it’s been in a long time. Right from start to finish we were dialled in. A lot to like.”

Philip Broberg of the Edmonton Oilers celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Dallas Stars during the second period in Game Five of the Western Conference Final of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 31, 2024, in Dallas, Texas. Photo by Richard Rodriguez /Getty Images

And it’s fitting that the longest-serving Oiler, the long-suffering Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, led the way for Edmonton Friday, scoring the first two goals of the night to move his team 60 minutes away from the promised land.

“He gets asked to do so much on this team, whether it’s on the kill or on the power play,” said McDavid. “He’s asked to do everything and just always delivers. Tonight was big. He was awesome.”

Nobody is enjoying this run more than he is.

“It’s exciting,” said Nugent-Hopkins, who’s been an Oilers for 881 regular season games, another 66 in the playoffs and 11 different coaches since being drafted first overall 13 years ago. “We understand where we are and the opportunity we have ahead of us. It’s fun to be a part of it.

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“We’ve given ourselves a chance here and that’s all you can ask. I thought we played a great game, pretty close to a full 60, and now we get a chance to close it out on home ice.”

On a night when the penalty kill remained perfect for the series and the power play stuck the knife in, you didn’t have to look far to see the impact Nugent-Hopkins, who sits fourth in playoff scoring with 20 points in 17 games, has on this team.

“He’s one of the best two-way players in the league, it’s pretty remarkable what this guy does,” said goaltender Stuart Skinner. “I’m more impressed with the type of person he is and the type of leader he is. As a young guy he was my favourite player growing up and being able to play with him I’ve learned there’s a lot more to him than just hockey.”

Zach Hyman and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers embrace on the bench during the second period against the Dallas Stars in Game Five of the Western Conference Final of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 31, 2024 in Dallas, Texas. Photo by Richard Rodriguez /Getty Images

Armed and dangerous

After coming into the game in an uncharacteristic power play drought — one goal for their previous 17 chances — the Oilers’ biggest weapon exploded in Game 5.

Nugent-Hopkins scored on Edmonton’s first two power plays, at 14:09 of the first period and 1:06 of the second to give Edmonton a 2-0 lead.

“I said earlier that it needed to be a factor and it certainly was today,” said McDavid. “I thought we got a little unlucky the other night but we found a way to contribute tonight.”

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Broberg bomb

Edmonton blew two-goal leads in Games 1 and 3, but this time they didn’t let Dallas push back and steal away the momentum. They continued to shut the Stars down defensively and pulled ahead 3-0 when Philip Broberg, who’s hasn’t looked at all out of place since being put in the lineup in Game 4,  put his mark on the series with the first playoff goal of his career.

Oilers Stars Game 5
Evander Kane of the Edmonton Oilers and Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars fight for position in front of Stuart Skinner during the first period in Game Five of the Western Conference Final of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 31, 2024, in Dallas, Texas. Photo by Matthew Stockman /Getty Images

Skinner a winner

After letting goals in on the first and third shots last game, Stuart Skinner got off to a much better start in Game 5, making a couple of nice saves early on to prevent Dallas from getting any traction. That allowed Edmonton to settle in, win the first period and take the crowd out of it.

Then, with Edmonton up 3-0 and on the penalty kill, he made a couple more to keep Dallas from getting any life heading into the second intermission.

“I thought he was great all night but particularly in that late kill in the second and then coming down the stretch in the third he made some really big saves,” said McDavid. “We played pretty well in front of him. There were a couple of breakdowns here and there but whenever there was he delivered.”

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McDavid, Bouchard among all-timers

McDavid’s 25 assists ties him for the seventh most in a single playoff year. Wayne Gretzky is first, second and third with 31, 30 and 29. … Evan Bouchard, meanwhile, is tied for sixth on the list of most points by a defenceman in a playoff year with 25. Paul Coffey is first with 37.

Late hits

Corey Perry left the game in the first period after a hit from Joe Pavelski and looked like he might be done for the night with shoulder trouble, but he was back for the second period… Edmonton killed off two Dallas penalties to extend their streak to 25 kills in a row dating back to Game 3 against Vancouver on May 12.

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