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Edmonton Oilers erupt for 8 goals, pushing Florida Panthers to Game 5 as Connor McDavid breaks a Wayne Gretzky all-time record


By Sam Joseph, Jacob Lev and Aimee Lewis, CNN

(CNN) — Facing elimination, the Edmonton Oilers put up eight goals in front of an energized home crowd to defeat the Florida Panthers 8-1 Saturday in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.

The win narrows the Oilers’ deficit to 3-1 in the best-of-seven series and forces a Game 5 on Tuesday in Florida.

The Panthers remain a single win away from a first championship title, but the Oilers came on strong to avoid the sweep with captain Connor McDavid showing his leadership qualities with one goal and three assists to surpass Wayne Gretzky’s 36-year-old record for the most assists in a single postseason.

McDavid said amassing 32 postseason assists and breaking the record was “not the focus right now.”

Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch was more effusive of McDavid’s record-breaking feat, however. “… He just keeps on making plays, scoring goals, getting assists. A great performance. And at the right time,” he said, per the NHL.

Teammate Dylan Holloway said it was “pretty special to watch” McDavid.

“Most of Gretzky’s records are considered almost untouchable, and Davo, he’s right there,” he said, per the Associated Press. “He leads our team every day, on the ice, off the ice leads by example. Couldn’t be happier for him.”

Oilers come up with dominant performance

An early tripping penalty on Edmonton didn’t seem to matter as center Mattias Janmark scored a shorthanded goal to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead to get Rogers Place rocking just over three minutes into the game.

The Oilers didn’t stop there.

About four minutes later, Edmonton forward Adam Henrique added to the lead.

The Panthers would respond with a goal of their own before Oilers forward Holloway made it a 3-1 game heading into the second period.

The Oilers would tack on five more goals, including star forward Connor McDavid’s first goal of the Cup Final.

Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl said it is going to be a “long flight” to Florida but the “vibes” are good.

“They’ve been good all playoffs for us,” Draisaitl told the ABC broadcast after the game. “We got to chip away here at it and hopefully get another win in Florida.”

The 28-year-old added that the team believed they could win the Stanley Cup.

The Oilers will look to do what only the Toronto Maple Leafs have ever achieved, back in 1942, which is come back from a 3-0 deficit in the finals.

But the Oils would become the first team to win Game 5 on the road after falling 3-0 down in the series.

On the verge

The Panthers were hoping to achieve a first Cup Final sweep since 1998.

They have frequently played stifling defense in this series, limiting Edmonton to four goals in the first three games, including a Game 1 shutout, but could not contain the Oilers Saturday, using two different goaltenders to try to stop the onslaught.

But this is a different Panthers team to the one that suffered heartbreaking defeat against the Vegas Golden Knights in last year’s Stanley Cup Final.

Florida coach Paul Maurice said his team would “reestablish” their game and “come back in the fight.”

“I’ll fire at least one cliché for you so you have something there: We came into Edmonton to get a split and we got what we needed. But there’s also reason for that,” he said, per the NHL, after the Panthers’ six-game winning streak came to an end Saturday.

“Most cliches have some merit. In general things will be far more extreme outside your room than inside. So, at 3-0 we’re not sitting there getting the engravers out. We lost a game tonight. … There’s going to be a Game 5.”

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