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EDMONTON -- Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl traveled a long road together and it finally led them to the Stanley Cup Final.

The Oilers forwards have been the cornerstones of a team built to win the Stanley Cup and after years of frustration find themselves four wins away from the elusive championship.

McDavid had a goal and assist, and Draisaitl had the primary assist on the Oilers captain’s goal in a 2-1 win against the Dallas Stars in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final at Rogers Place on Sunday to close out the best-of-7 series and book a date with the Florida Panthers in the Final.

“There’s been lots of growing pains, for sure, lots of lessons, and obviously it feels great to be in this position,” McDavid said. “This was always part of the plan and it feels good to be here today.”

Draisaitl and McDavid have been working toward that plan since arriving in Edmonton in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Draisaitl was selected No. 3 in the 2014 NHL Draft, and McDavid followed at No. 1 the next year.

The two, along with forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and defenseman Darnell Nurse, were expected to be at the center of a championship-contending team for years, but this will be their first trip to the Final.

“It means a lot. There were a lot of painful years that we’ve gone through and lots of learning along the way,” Draisaitl said. “To be able to do it at home and for this city and for these fans and for ourselves as well, it’s great. It’s a great feeling of course. That being said, we have bigger dreams and goals right now.”

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The last time the Oilers went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2006, Draisaitl and McDavid were kids dreaming of one day playing in the NHL. Edmonton lost to the Carolina Hurricanes in seven games and did not qualify for the playoffs the next 10 seasons.

Once Draisaitl and McDavid arrived in Edmonton, they helped put an end to the decade of darkness by reaching the playoffs in 2017. The Oilers lost to the Anaheim Ducks in seven games in the second round, but it was supposed to be the first step in a championship window.

Things did not work out the way they hoped, however, with Edmonton missing the playoffs the following two seasons and then going through a series of postseason frustration.

Edmonton lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in the qualifying round in 2020, were swept out of the first round by Winnipeg Jets in 2021, were swept out of the Western Conference Final by the Colorado Avalanche in 2022, and knocked out in the second round last season by the Vegas Golden Knights.

All the lessons learned in those disappointments came to fruition against the Stars, particularly in Game 6, when the Oilers managed to hold off a desperate team to close out the series despite being outshot 34-10.

“We’ve closed out big games. It’s not always the prettiest, but we got it done and that’s all that really matters,” McDavid said. “I thought we gave up a couple looks coming down the stretch that we’d like to not give up, and guys were sacrificing their bodies with big blocks or Stu [Skinner] making timely saves, whatever it was. We got it done and that’s all that really matters. We’ll move on from this one tonight.”

Going into the season, the Oilers had high expectations but stumbled out of the gate, dropping to the bottom of the standings and firing their coach.

When Kris Knoblauch was hired to replace Jay Woodcroft on Nov. 12, with the Oilers sitting at 3-9-1, few outside of the dressing room believed they would be able to climb their way out of the hole and qualify for the playoffs. Even less picked them to be one of the last two teams left standing.

“This was always part of the plan, it always has been for this group,” McDavid said. “It’s been a bit of bumpy road, obviously, whether it be off years or heartbreak in the playoffs or whatever is it. This was always part of the plan, to be in this moment and I think the group has always stuck with it. We’ve always believed in ourselves and each other and to put ourselves in this position was always a possibility and it feels good to have done that.”

For Nugent-Hopkins, selected No. 1 in the 2011 NHL Draft, the road has been longer than any other current player on the Oilers roster. The forward missed the playoffs in his first five seasons.

“We talk about it all the time, there is always going to be adversity and it’s how you respond to that,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “It would have been easy to fold it in after you change coaches and you’re disappointed that it’s not going right and the easy thing to do at that point would have been to quit on each other, and there was none of that. I think it shows the character of this group and we can pull from that when we’re up in a game or down in a game.”