Scoring from unlikely sources helps the Oilers stay alive in the Stanley Cup Final

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EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — After having a total of four goals through the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final, the Edmonton Oilers broke out in a big way with offense coming from some unlikely sources to avoid being swept by the Florida Panthers.

Mattias Janmark scored short-handed three minutes into Game 4, Dylan Holloway had two goals to break his lengthy drought, Darnell Nurse got his first of the playoffs and Adam Henrique buried what turned out to be the winner. The result was an 8-1 blowout victory Saturday night that sent the series back to South Florida for Game 5 on Tuesday night.

“To win, you need everybody,” said winger Connor Brown, who set up Janmark’s goal on a 2-on-1 rush. “It obviously can’t always be the big boys. To get us going there with a couple goals, it’s important. That’s kind of what you need.”

The big boys pitched in, too, of course. Connor McDavid had a goal and three assists, and Leon Draisiatl and Zach Hyman each picked up their first two points in the final.

But coach Kris Knoblauch said Janmark and Brown “might’ve been our best two players.” They set the tone early, and the rest of the Oilers followed.

“They’ve both been fantastic,” McDavid said. “Both huge pieces of the team. The job they did on the kill, I thought the whole line played great. They really got us going.”

That third line of Janmark, Henrique and Brown combined to put the Oilers up two early, an important boost given the Panthers’ push that resulted in a goal from 2019 Stanley Cup winner Vladimir Tarasenko.

Henrique’s goal seven minutes in was his second in the final in his career and came 12 years since he also had the winner for New Jersey down 3-0 to the Los Angeles Kings that extended that series.

All in all, 15 of Edmonton’s 18 skaters registered a point.

“Nice to score a couple of goals to give fans something to cheer about, nice to break through finally,” Janmark said. “The top players carry the load on a lot of nights but depth scoring, there has to be nights where we chip in. … Hopefully, we have a few more.”

Knoblauch considered the victory more of a continuation of his team’s strong play from Games 1 and 3 than the result of a big adjustment he made to the top two lines, putting Warren Foegele on McDavid’s left wing opposite Hyman and dropping Ryan Nugent-Hopkins down to skate with Draisaitl.

“We definitely got the goal-scoring,” Knoblauch said. “We were able to put the puck in the net. It was just an amount of time that it was going to happen. But I don’t know. Overall, I thought it was pretty good, I guess.”

But McDavid, who played for Knoblauch in the junior Ontario Hockey League with the Erie Otters, credited the first-year NHL head coach who took over in November for making another change that paid off.

“He knows our team well,” McDavid said. “He’s been here long enough now to understand the different dynamics, both on and off the ice. He’s done a great job all playoffs long understanding the group, understanding maybe what tweaks are needed. I thought he did another great job tonight in adjusting that way.”

Production down the lineup had less to do with that adjustment and more to do with good line chemistry turning into secondary scoring.

“It’s massive,” Holloway said. “When everyone’s chipping in, that’s when we’re at our best.”

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AP NHL playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL

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