Panthers shrug off Game 4 rout with eye to finishing off Oilers in ...

17 Jun 2024


Despite being blown out 8-1 in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final, the Florida Panthers still have their collective fingers around the Edmonton Oilers' throats.

Panthers – Oilers - Figure 1
Oilers coach Knoblauch knows Panthers will 'be better" at home

Steven Sandor · The Canadian Press

· Posted: Jun 16, 2024 2:40 PM EDT | Last Updated: June 16

Florida captain Aleksander Barkov falls into Edmonton goalie Stuart Skinner during the Oilers' 8-1 win in Game of the Stanley Cup final on Saturday night. (Getty Images)

Despite being blown out 8-1 in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final, the Florida Panthers still have their collective fingers around the Edmonton Oilers' throats.

They may not have swept the best-of-seven Cup final, but they're heading back to Sunrise, Fla., with a three games to one lead.

"It's all about us and the team to manage the losses," said Panthers centre Aleksander Barkov, who was a minus-2 in Saturday's lopsided setback. "It only counts as one win, it doesn't matter how much you lose, 2-1 or 8-1 — or you win 2-1 or 8-1.

"Obviously, we need to bounce back and recover now and think about the next one."

While the Panthers got outworked in Game 4, they were quick to point out that the goal was to earn a split in Edmonton — which they did. The 4-3 win in Thursday's Game 3 gave the Panthers a stranglehold on the series. And, after a long flight back to the Miami area, they know they can skate the Cup around in front of their own fans at Amerant Bank Arena.

Panthers – Oilers - Figure 2

It's a cliche, but it's true: If you'd have asked the Panthers last week if they'd be happy with a 3-1 lead in the series, to a man they'd have said yes.

WATCH l Nurse ends Bobrovsky's night in Game 4 rout:

Bobrovsky pulled as Oilers dominate Panthers in Game 4 of Stanley Cup final to stay alive
Connor McDavid recorded a goal and three assists in Edmonton's 8-1 victory over Florida to avoid a sweep in the Stanley Cup final. McDavid broke Wayne Gretzky's NHL record for most assists in a single postseason with 32. The Panthers lead the series 3-1 and have another chance to clinch their first Cup title on Tuesday.

"At the end of the day, it's back to the drawing board," said Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk, who was penalized in the second period for delivering a series of punches to star Edmonton forward Connor McDavid's face. "We win, we learn from it. We put it aside. We lose, same thing.

"We're in an unbelievable spot right now. We came here, after all that craziness, and got a split, and we're going home in front of our unbelievable fans that are so excited to see us. And we're so excited to play in front of them again."

Rewind to 2021, the last time a Canadian team was in the Cup final. The Tampa Bay Lightning won the first three games of the series over the Montreal Canadiens. An overtime goal by Josh Anderson gave the Canadiens a Game 4 win, and sent the series back to Tampa. But the Lightning responded in Game 5 by shutting out the Habs and lifting the Cup.

Panthers – Oilers - Figure 3

The Habs may have won Game 4, but they didn't come close to winning the war.

And star Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov famously lampooned the Canadiens and their fans for the way they celebrated a sweep-averting win.

"The fans in Montreal, come on," Kucherov jibed. "They acted like they won the Stanley Cup last game. Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? Their final was last series."

Kucherov waited until the Stanley Cup final was over before he delivered that barb. He knew not to give the Canadiens anything that could be pinned to a dressing room bulletin board. Likewise, the Panthers weren't going to say anything that would give the Oilers any extra gas for their competitive fires.

So Panthers coach Paul Maurice kept it calm in his post-game press conference.

"I'll fire up at least one cliche for you, so you have something there," he said to the media. "We came into Edmonton to get a split and we got what we needed, but there's also a reason for that. Most cliches have some merit. In general, things will be far more extreme outside your room than inside it.

"So at three-nothing, we're not sitting there getting the engravers out. We lost the game tonight. I'm pretty sure — I've got to check, possibly — but there's going to be a Game 5."

The Panthers are coming off their worst game of this entire playoffs and first loss since early in the Eastern Conference final against the New York Rangers, which they won in six after falling behind 2-1 in that series.

"They're going to be much more prepared for Game 5 than they were in Game 4," Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch said, citing the distractions his opponent dealt with in getting family and friends up to Alberta for a potential clincher. "Going back home, now that you have been beaten, they're going to respond. They're going to be better. What they do, I don't know. I feel like we have a pretty good feel for what their team identity is and how they're going to play, but we can't control that."

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