Florida Panthers defeat Edmonton Oilers to win Stanley Cup

Click to play video: 'McDavid, Draisaitl and Draisaitl on Stanley Cup loss: ‘It sucks’'
McDavid, Draisaitl and Draisaitl on Stanley Cup loss: ‘It sucks’
Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid, along with players Leon Draisaitl and Zack Hyman talk about the devastating Game 7 Stanley Cup final loss against the Florida Panthers. "We gave it everything." – Jun 25, 2024

In a heartbreaking defeat, the Edmonton Oilers’ bid to pull off one of the greatest comebacks in sports history fell one win short.

On Monday night in Sunrise, Fla., the Florida Panthers beat the Oilers 2-1 to claim the 2024 Stanley Cup Championship.

“I thought they were the better team in the first period. I thought they came out with a little more urgency,” Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch said.

“They won a lot of puck races. We defended well but in the second and third period we found our game. I thought we played really well and couldn’t capitalize on our opportunities, especially in the third period where we had a couple glorious chances.

“We gave it everything,” Edmonton’s Zach Hyman said. “It would’ve been nice to get a bounce. I thought we played well.

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The Panthers took the lead 4:27 into the game.

Shortly after failing to convert on a power play, Carter Verhaeghe deflected a shot past goaltender Stuart Skinner.

The Oilers replied just over two minutes later. Cody Ceci sent a stretch pass to Mattias Janmark, who went in alone and beat Sergei Bobrovsky blocker side for his fourth of the playoffs.

Panthers center Sam Reinhart scored the only goal of the second period to pull Florida ahead. His shot from the right wing and beat Skinner short side, with 4:49 to go in the frame.

The Oilers had a couple of chances with seven minutes left in third.

“We knew it was going to be tight,” captain Connor McDavid said. “Game 7 for the Cup, you knew it was going to be a real tight game and it was going to come down to one thing here and there.”

“We were an inch away from going ahead 2-1 right before they go ahead 2-1.

“It’s tough. They did a good job of shutting things down. We had our looks and just couldn’t find it.”

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Edmonton Oiler Zach Hyman looks on while teammates react after their 2-1 loss against the Florida Panthers in Game Seven of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final at Amerant Bank Arena on June 24, 2024. Elsa/Getty Images

Evan Bouchard unleashed a one-timer but Bobrovsky moved to his right to make the save. With Bobrovsky down, Zach Hyman had a poke at the puck but he couldn’t muscle it home. With three minutes to go, Connor McDavid sent a deflection try just over the net.

The Oilers couldn’t muster a chance after pulling Skinner for an extra attacker. Bobrovsky finished with 23 saves. Skinner made 19.

“When somebody beats you in a seven-game series, they’re the better team and good for them, but we were darn close and we’re going to be back next year,” Mattias Ekholm said.

McDavid won the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player in the playoffs.

He had 42 points in the post-season, the fourth most ever. McDavid becomes the first player from a losing team to win the Conn Smythe since Anaheim’s Jean-Sebastian Giguere in 2003.

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“He’s the greatest player to ever play, in my books,” Leon Draisaitl said.

“So many things that a lot of people don’t see that he does — his work ethic — he single-handedly turned our franchise around, pretty much.

Ekholm agreed.

“He’s the best in the world. He’s shown it on the biggest stage,” Ekholm said about McDavid.

Florida Panthers’ Sergei Bobrovsky and Sam Reinhart of the celebrate while Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid skates away after Florida’s 2-1 victory in Game Seven of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final on June 24, 2024. Elsa/Getty Images

The Oilers had forced a seventh game after falling behind 3-0 in the series — only the tenth time in NHL history a best-of-seven has gone the distance after one team was up 3-0.

Four teams have completed the comeback and the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs remain the only team to do it the final.

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Asked whether this leaves them hungrier to win, Draisaitl said “it’s tough to drag a lesson out of this one when you’re really one shot or two shots away from accomplishing everything.”

It’s the Panthers first Stanley Cup title.

The Oilers were seeking their sixth and first since 1990. The 1993 Montreal Canadiens remain the last Canadian team to win the Cup.

The Oilers were no strangers to rallying from the depths this season. They started the regular season with just two wins in their first 12 games.

They improved to 3-9-1 with a win over Seattle on Nov. 11, but that wasn’t enough to save the job of head coach Jay Woodcroft. He was fired the next day and replaced by Kris Knoblauch.

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“It’s hard to put into words how much character is in this room,” Draisaitl said.

“I’m just really proud of the way we stuck with it all year and battled all the way to the end.”

Under Knoblauch, the Oilers posted a 16-game winning streak from Dec. 21 to Jan. 27.

To reach the Stanley Cup Final, the Oilers eliminated Los Angeles in five games, Vancouver in seven, and Dallas in six. They trailed 2-1 against both Vancouver and Dallas.

It was the Oilers first appearance in the Final since 2006. They lost that series in seven games to the Carolina Hurricanes.

— This is a breaking news story. More to come…

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