THE GREAT ESCAPE: Oilers blow chance to get back in series with Game 3 loss

Panthers’ captain Aleksander Barkov grins through his supposedly broken jaw after a second period goal that sank the Oilers on Thursday.
Panthers’ captain Aleksander Barkov grins through his supposedly broken jaw after a second period goal that sank the Oilers on Thursday.NHL.com screen grab

There’s always next year.

The Oilers aren’t out of the Stanley Cup finals, but their chances of even getting back into the thick of things are growing slimmer after they dropped a 4-3 heartbreaker at home Thursday night.

Despite getting production from their third and fourth lines, the Oil just couldn’t put together a third period comeback even after what turned out to be a thriller.

They basically lost it in the second period after the Panthers put together three goals in roughly six minutes.

“Obviously, you know, we’re trying to figure them out. We haven’t beat them in three games, so that’s a long way to say we have to win a game.”

Oilers’ Captain Connor McDavid

The Oilers came into the third period down 4-1. The last time any team came back from the three goal deficit in the third period in the Stanley Cup finals was the Montreal Canadiens in 1944. That’s when the Habs would go on to win their fifth Cup.

Only four teams have ever come back from down 3-0 in an NHL playoff series, the most recent being the 2013-14 Los Angeles Kings. It has happened only once in the Stanley Cup Final, when the Toronto Maple Leafs burned the Detroit Wings in 1942. 

That said, the Oilers will have one last chance at staving off elimination on Saturday at Roger’s Place in what is sure to be a barn burner.

Analysts said the keys to the game were giving up the first goal. The Oilers pressed, whigh they did at 18:58 of the first. But Warren Fogele quickly tied it up at 1:49 of the second. At that point, the home team seemed fairly in control, going on to press 35 shots on Sergei Bobrovsky.

They played their game. And the fans were clearly on board.

But things went south after a garbage goal by Vladimir Tarasenko at 9:12. Former Flames Mathew Tkachuk and Sam Bennett teamed up for a marker barely four minutes later followed by Aleksander Barkov — a questionable start after supposedly having his jaw broken by Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl in Game 2 — at 15:31.

It obviously wasn’t.

But the Oilers refused to quit. Philip Broberg kept the hope alive on a nice feed from captain Connor McDavid and the much maligned Darnell Nurse at 6:02. McDavid followed up with a nice feed to mucked Ryan McLeod at 14:43 to keep it interesting.

Despite some heartbreaking chances with an empty net In the last two minutes, time just simply ran out.

After the game, McDavid was obviously disappointed but also resigned to the task at hand. “Obviously, you know, we’re trying to figure them out. We haven’t beat them in three games, so that’s a long way to say we have to win a game.”

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