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Stanley Cup Final: Oilers force Game 6, beat Panthers 5-3 as rally falls short

Panthers lose once again to Oilers as fans rally behind team
Panthers lose once again to Oilers as fans rally behind team 02:18

The Florida Panthers fell to the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night 5-3 at Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise, Florida.

Connor McDavid had two goals and two assists added to his historic postseason. Evan Bouchard added three assists and the Edmonton Oilers fended off elimination yet again. 

The Cats still lead the series, 3-2, and will have to wait until Friday night — when the series moves back to Edmonton for Game 6 — for a chance to lift the Stanley Cup.

Connor Brown, Zach Hyman and Corey Perry also had goals for the Oilers, who scored the game's first three goals to take control — then held on late. Stuart Skinner stopped 30 shots for the Oilers, and McDavid sealed it with an empty-netter in the final seconds.  

Panthers drop game 5 to the Oilers, fans still hopeful 01:36

Evan Rodrigues and Matthew Tkachuk each had a goal and an assist for Florida, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson also scored for the Panthers. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 19 shots for Florida.     

A historic night may yet await a franchise seeking its first NHL championship since its inaugural season 30 years ago.

It was the first time in Panthers history that they played a home game with a chance to win the Cup. Another sellout crowd came, some of the paying more than $1,000 apiece for tickets on the secondary market — the crowd pushing Florida's total attendance for the season over 1 million for the first time.  

If the Cats don't get it done on Friday, the series will move back to South Florida for a decisive Game 7 on Monday.

Oilers beat Panthers once again as lead continues to shorten 02:00

The Oilers' early three-goal lead has been infallible in the Stanley Cup Final for almost two decades; no team had lost after leading by three in a title-series game since Edmonton against Carolina in 2006. Every team since then, 39-0 in such games.

Make it 40-0. But the Panthers made it interesting.

It was 4-2 by the end of the second, Tkachuk and Rodrigues sandwiching goals around Perry's first of the playoffs - set up by a brilliant pass from McDavid. Ekman-Larsson scored early in the third, but the equalizer never came. Skinner stood tall, time and time again, and sent the series back to his hometown for Game 6. 

Panthers fans in Oakland Park remain hopeful 01:29

The Panthers took a 3-0 series lead into Game 4 at Edmonton on Saturday night and got rolled, the Oilers staying alive with an 8-1 win. A good sign for the Oilers: No team has lost a playoff game by seven or more goals and went on to win the Cup since Toronto in 1947.

"We're taking it one day at a time, one game at a time. It's all we can do," Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl said. "If you look at the top of the mountain right now, it's pretty steep, but taking one day at a time doesn't sound so bad. That's our goal, that's our focus."

For Florida, the focus is different: It's Cup time.

It's taken 30 seasons, 457 different players, 18 different coaches, about two decades of irrelevance wedged in there along the way, rumors of contraction, rumors of relocation, and who knows how many bad nights to get to this moment.

The fans will have to wait to continue the tradition of throwing plastic rats onto the ice.

Win on Friday night, and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman will hand the Cup to them for the first time.

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