scfgm3 EDM postgame sider

EDMONTON -- It’s been 264 days since the Edmonton Oilers opened training camp on Sept. 21 with the unified goal of winning the Stanley Cup.

It took just 379 seconds Thursday for that dream to potentially fizzle.

In that span -- which converts to 6:19 of hockey time on the scoreboard clock at Rogers Place -- a series of Oilers blunders turned a 1-1 game Edmonton had at times dominated into a 4-1 deficit.

And despite a valiant third period comeback attempt, the Oilers find themselves in dire straits after a 4-3 defeat to the Florida Panthers in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final that has them down 3-0 in this best-of-7 series. 

Only one team in NHL history has overcome a three-game deficit in the Final to win the Stanley Cup, that being the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs. And unless the Oilers can repeat that magic of 82 years ago, they can point to their fumbling, bumbling and stumbling midway through the second period as the brief window in time where their aspirations of the franchise’s first championship since 1990 evaporated.

As forward Leon Draisaitl aptly put it: “It’s very frustrating."

“I thought we shot ourselves in the foot a little bit today," he said. "We made some individual and collective mistakes that they immediately took advantage of.”

That pretty much sums up the situation.

Ironically, momentum seemed to be on the Oilers side when Warren Foegele tied the game 1-1 for Edmonton at 1:49 of the second period. They kept pushing and pushing for the lead, only to be repeatedly stopped by Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, including an outstanding right pad save of a backhand by the Oilers Dylan Holloway.

Cue the disaster.

The Panthers gobbled up the rebound and got the puck into the neutral zone, where forward Anton Lundell dumped it along the boards deep into the Edmonton end.

Goalie Stuart Skinner went behind the net to play the puck. Or, in this instance, try to. Instead, he and defenseman Cody Ceci failed to corral the puck, allowing Panthers forward Eetu Luostarinen to grab it and feed teammate Vladimir Tarasenko for the go-ahead goal at 9:12.

Consider the floodgates officially opened.

“I tried to play the puck,” Skinner said. “I don't know if it bounced over (my stick), I’m not too sure exactly what happened. They got the puck, passed it out front, I tried to get that one as well and tried to make the save.

“All those three things did not work.”

The Panthers regained the lead 2-1.

There was more to come.

Just over four minutes later, Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse was stripped of the puck to the left of Skinner by Panthers forward Sam Bennett. One quick pass from Matthew Tkachuk to Bennett later and Edmonton found itself trailing 3-1 at 13:57.

The mishaps didn’t end there.

At 15:31, Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov upped Florida’s lead to 4-1 when he converted a nice 2-on-1 opportunity with linemate Evan Rodrigues. The cause of the odd-man rush? Oilers defenseman Mattias Ekholm had pinched on the play and was caught in the Panthers zone when the play turned the other way.

Game. Set. Match. And, potentially, season.

“After they got that second one, they just kind of got on a roll,” Skinner said. “We let them take that momentum and stride with it. They got two more quick ones -- just kind of silly mistakes that didn't need to happen.”

But they did, leaving the Oilers with zero margin for error heading into Game 4 on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; ABC, CBC, TVAS, SN, ESPN+).

“I liked the way we were going after Foegele scored that huge goal,” Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch said. “I really liked our team, their execution, their energy. We had some really good chances to go ahead. Their goalie made some nice saves.

“Then, they dump the puck in and it’s 2-1. That was a tough one.”

So is the task of winning the next four games. Do it, and they’ll make history. Don’t do it, and they’ll be history.

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