NHL Stanley Cup Final: Florida Panthers 'wanted it too bad' in Game 5

Coach Paul Maurice said the Florida Panthers need to stay out of the penalty box and focus on not allowing short-handed goals for the remainder of the Stanley Cup Final. File Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI
Coach Paul Maurice said the Florida Panthers need to stay out of the penalty box and focus on not allowing short-handed goals for the remainder of the Stanley Cup Final. File Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

June 19 (UPI) -- Veteran forward Sam Bennett said his Florida Panthers "wanted it too bad" heading into their Game 5 Stanley Cup Final matchup against the Edmonton Oilers, contributing to the loss and extending the series.

The Panthers, who held a 3-0 lead through the start of the best-of-seven-game series, failed to chinch the title for the second-consecutive game Tuesday in Sunrise, Fla. Their next opportunity will come Friday in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


"I think we were gripping the sticks a little tight," Bennett told reporters. "We wanted it a little too bad."

The Panthers outscored the Oilers 11-4 through the first three games of the series. The Oilers outscored their foes 13-3 over the last two.

Known for their defensive prowess, the Panthers suffocated the talented Oilers' attack early on in the series.


But Oilers forward Connor McDavid rose to the challenge, becoming the first player in NHL history to record consecutive four-point games in a Stanley Cup Final. He registered a combined three goals and five assists in Game 4 and Game 5, pulling the Oilers back into the series.

The Oilers still face very long odds of completing a comeback, as they attempt to become just the second team in NHL history to overcome a 3-0 Stanley Cup Final series deficit to win the title.

Despite an obvious shift in performance for the Oilers, Panthers players and coach Paul Maurice insisted Tuesday that they don't face pressure and "momentum is not an issue."

"It's not an elimination game for us," Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk said. "We are going up there. We have a 3-2 series lead. We've just got to take care of business like we did in Game 3."

McDavid's 11 points in the series are nearly twice as much as the second-leading points-getter, Panthers forward Evan Rodrigues (six points). Rodrigues' four goals are a series-best, while McDavid leads all players with eight assists.


Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has a save percentage of .896, with 112 stops on 125 attempts for the Panthers. Oilers net minder Stuart Skinner logged a .902 save percentage, with 120 stops on 133 attempts through five games.

Bobrovsky logged a .953 save percentage (82 saves on 86 attempts) through the first three games, compared to Skinner's .867 (59-68) mark. Skinner saved 93.8% (61-65) over the last two, compared to Bobrovsky's 76.9% (30-39) clip.

The Oilers held an 86-69 advantage in shot attempts through the first three meetings. The Panthers outshot the Oilers 65-59 in their two losses.

"Absolutely nothing has changed for our situation in the last two games except we learned some things," Maurice said. "Some lessons we don't need to learn. We've learned them enough. But we keep getting taught those lessons. Nothing has changed for us. Not one thing."

Maurice cited the Panthers' increased presence in the penalty box and allowing short-handed scores in their two losses. The Oilers received 27 more penalty minutes than the Panthers from Game 1 through Game 3. The Panthers had 24 penalty minutes compared to the Oilers' 16 over the last two games.


The Oilers scored three power-play goals, including two in Game 5, in their two victories. The Panthers' only power-play score came in Game 2. The Oilers scored short-handed goals in each of their two victories.

"We've gotta find a way to stay out of the penalty box," Maurice said. "That will be part of it. And that's about it."

The Oilers (2-3) will host the Panthers (3-2) at 8 p.m. EDT Friday at Rogers Place. Game 7, if necessary, will be Monday in Sunrise.

"I'm not rubbing backs," Maurice said. "I don't think we need that at all. Everybody feels probably exactly the way I do right now. I'm not feeling deflated, neither is the hockey team. They're not feeling deflated -- a little grumpy."

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