Connor McDavid for Game 5 column 61824

SUNRISE, Fla. -- We are witnessing one of the greatest players of all time come up big in the biggest moments. Nothing less.

Connor McDavid is making history and keeping the Edmonton Oilers alive in the Stanley Cup Final.

In a 5-3 win against the Florida Panthers in Game 5 at Amerant Bank Arena on Tuesday, the center became the first player to post two straight four-point performances in the Cup Final -- and each came while facing elimination.

The only other player with two four-point performances at any time in the Cup Final is Wayne Gretzky, who had two for the Oilers in 1985.

McDavid could win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs whether the Oilers win the Cup or not.

“When we’re against the wall, he puts us on his back and he plays,” Oilers forward Corey Perry said. “You see why he is the best player.”

McDavid has won five scoring titles, three MVP awards and a goal-scoring title in the regular season. But this is the first time the 27-year-old has had the chance to shine in the Cup Final.

He had three assists in three games when the Oilers fell behind 3-0 in the series. Then he had a goal and three assists in an 8-1 win in Game 4 and two goals and two assists in Game 5, giving him 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in the series.

He has 42 points (eight goals, 34 assists) in the playoffs, 10 more than anyone else.

Only Gretzky and Mario Lemieux have had more points in a playoff run. Gretzky had 47 (17 goals, 30 assists) for the Oilers in 1985. Lemieux had 44 (16 goals, 28 assists) for the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991.

Gretzky also had 43 (12 goals, 31 assists) for the Oilers in 1988.

Asked if that was special to him, McDavid said: “Of course. I seem to be getting this question a lot, which is a good thing. Any time you’re compared or in the same realm as those two, it’s always a good thing. But I love playing in the playoffs.”

McDavid (1.63) has passed Lemieux (1.61) in points per game in the playoffs among players who have appeared in more than seven games. The only one ahead of him? Gretzky (1.84).

“Kind of expect it from him, obviously,” linemate Zach Hyman said. “You don’t want to put any extra pressure, but it’s what he does. He elevates his game at the most opportune times for us and he’s been great.”

What separates McDavid is how he processes the game and uses his skill at high speeds. He showed it on two plays in particular in Game 5.

EDM@FLA SCF, Gm5: McDavid increases Oilers' lead in 2nd period

McDavid scored his first goal at the five-minute mark of the second period when he took the puck at the top of the left circle and curled toward the net. Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky froze deep in his net.

McDavid spotted something, fired from a sharp angle and banked the puck in off Bobrovsky.

“I don’t want to give away too much,” McDavid said. “There’s still hockey to be played. But coming down on that side on the goal, I’ve gone short side lots. I would say most people know that I look there. He was standing. [Hyman] is always around the net. Just tried to kind of put it there and found a way in.”

McDavid set up Perry for a power-play goal at 11:54 of the second period. He took the puck deep in the Edmonton zone with his head up, surveying the ice. Then he curled around one opponent at the blue line and split two more in the Florida zone.

“I’m in that position a lot, going back for pucks on the breakout, bringing it in the zone, so it’s something that I look at a lot, how certain guys are playing things,” McDavid said. “[Florida defenseman Niko] Mikkola’s got a really long reach and just tried to work my way through there.”

Finally, McDavid found Perry for a backdoor tap-in.

“I didn’t even yell for it,” Perry said. “He just saw me go to the net. That’s just the type of player he is.”

Unbelievable. Even for him.

EDM@FLA SCF, Gm5: Perry nets his 1st goal of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs with PPG

“To attack the middle like that and to pop out and slip by guys and to have the poise to then pass it over to [Perry], I mean, there’s one person in the planet that can make that play,” Oilers forward Connor Brown said. “We’ve got our backs against the wall and he’s shown composure. He’s shown why he has the reputation he has, and it’s growing.”

It could grow even more in Game 6 in Edmonton on Friday (8 p.m. ET; ABC, ESPN+, SN, TVAS, CBC).

“Playoffs are the most fun time of the year,” McDavid said. “Special with this group. Special with our city, our fans. They make it so fun to go on these runs. I’m really excited to see the energy they bring on Friday night.”

Related Content