Game 1 Oilers reaction

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Edmonton Oilers feel they proved something in their 3-0 loss to the Florida Panthers in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday and that they can build on it moving forward in the best-of-7 series.

“I know not many people gave us a chance in this series, and I think we showed tonight that we can play with them,” Oilers captain Connor McDavid said. “That’s a confidence booster for this group, but we know that our best can play with anybody.”

Edmonton outshot Florida 32-18 in the game but could not find a way to beat goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who collected his third career playoff shutout. Game 2 is here at Amerant Bank Arena on Monday (8 p.m. ET; ABC, ESPN+, SN, TVAS, CBC).

“I didn’t like the result, obviously, but I thought we were able to skate, and the key to our game is skating and forechecking and getting pucks in the O-zone and making plays,” Oilers forward Zach Hyman said. “I thought for lots of parts of that game we were the team that was pushing, we just didn’t come out on top today.”

EDM@FLA SCF, Gm1: Bobrovsky shuts the door on the Oilers in Game 1

The Oilers gave up a goal on the first shot they conceded at 3:59 of the first period. Panthers forward Carter Verhaeghe finished off a well-worked 3-on-2 rush with Aleksander Barkov and Sam Reinhart against defensemen Cody Ceci and Darnell Nurse.

Edmonton dominated the rest of the period and had numerous high-quality chances to tie the game, including two breakaways, but were denied at every turn by Bobrovsky. The Oilers outshot the Panthers 12-4 in the first period and were unlucky to be down at the intermission.

“I’ve had a lot of chances in my career, and you continue to get them and eventually they’re going to go in,” Hyman said. “And when they go in, they go in in bunches. And sometimes you have an amazing look and it doesn’t go in and sometimes it hits your shin pad and it goes in.

“Hockey is a funny game, the key is to not get frustrated. You just continue to play and play your game that’s why it’s a seven-game series and you go out there and you execute. I liked our game, we had our looks, tonight we didn’t score of them and I’m pretty confident we’re capable of scoring.”

Edmonton outshot Florida 13-8 in the second period and again generated a handful of Grade-A opportunities but was unable to convert. Panthers forward Evan Rodrigues scored the only goal of the period, capitalizing on a defensive lapse and snapping a shot over the shoulder of Stuart Skinner at 2:16.

“Even though we let in the first one I think that our team played another full 60 (minutes),” Skinner said. “We were amazing for the whole game, we really pushed. ‘Bob’ was absolutely massive for them and a big reason why they were able to win.”

SCF, Gm1: Oilers @ Panthers Recap

Moral victories mean little in the Stanley Cup Final, but the Oilers hope demonstrating they can outplay the Panthers goes a long way in the rest of the series. Edmonton came into the series as underdogs after Florida dispatched the Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins and New York Rangers, who won the Presidents' Trophy, in the first three rounds of the playoffs to get to the Final for the second consecutive season.

Edmonton defeated the Los Angeles Kings, Vancouver Canucks and Dallas Stars to get to its first Final since 2006.

“Game 1s of series are always unique because you don’t always know what to expect,” Hyman said. “You hear about what their team does, you watch videos, but you haven’t played them. As the series settles in, you’re aware of what works, what doesn’t work, things like that, just realizing what’s happening what they’re trying to do. Both teams had a long rest, and everybody had energy was skating and it was a fast-paced game.”

Hyman said the game taught the Oilers more about themselves than their opponents. Edmonton is in unfamiliar territory in South Florida, having played the Panthers once here this season prior to the final, losing 5-3 on Nov. 20, eight days after coach Kris Knoblauch was hired by Edmonton to replace Jay Woodcroft.

“I think we’re right there, we’re very confident in our group,” Hyman said. “We’ve been in positions like this before, they’re a good team, we’re a really good team.”

Knoblauch was happy with his team’s performance but feels they will be up against a strong challenge in Game 2. The Oilers will be looking for the split heading to Rogers Place in Edmonton for Game 3 and Game 4 on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.

“I know that Florida, that probably wasn’t their best game and I anticipate they’ll be much better in the next one,” Knoblauch said. “They were probably caught off guard with you guys (media) talking about how good they were, and we didn’t have a chance in this series. There’s a lot of things I liked about our game that we can get even better.”

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