EDMONTON -- Who played well in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final? Sometimes it’s easy to tell, sometimes it isn’t. NHL.com graded the players in the 4-3 win by the Florida Panthers against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place on Thursday. Here are the players that stood out the most.

Honor roll

Aleksander Barkov (Florida Panthers): There were concerns the Panthers captain wouldn’t play after getting hurt in the third period of Game 2. Instead, he was the best skater on the ice for either team by a country mile. He set the tone on the game-opening goal in the first period, stripping the puck from Evan Bouchard, protecting the puck, and feeding Gustav Forsling for a shot/pass to Sam Reinhart for a 1-0 lead at 18:58. He scored Florida’s fourth goal, the game-winner, on a 2-on-1 in the second period. Then, he was the forward entrusted with defusing the 6-on-5 situation in the final minute of the game.

Connor Brown (Edmonton Oilers): One of the most engaged players for the Oilers, he was noticeable throughout. He used his speed to harass Florida’s defensemen on the forecheck. He had four shot attempts, including a short-handed rush in the first that generated two scoring chances. Brown was denied on the first and shot just wide on the second.

Sergei Bobrovsky (Florida Panthers): What more is there to say about Florida's goalie? He is the MVP of this series and he needed to be the Panthers' best player for the first 30 minutes of the game until his teammates found a way to pull away. Bobrovsky allowed a breakaway goal by Warren Foegele at 1:49 of the second period, but he then shut the door, frustrating the Oilers at every turn through two periods. Through 40 minutes, he had stopped 28 of 29 shots, including 14 from Edmonton’s most dangerous trio: forwards Connor McDavid (five) and Leon Draisaitl (three), and defenseman Bouchard (six), who was stopped on back-to-back Grade A chances with two minutes left in the second. Bobrovsky finished with 32 saves and helped the Panthers move one game from winning their first Stanley Cup championship.

Ryan McLeod (Edmonton Oilers): The Oilers needed players to go to the net to screen Bobrovsky. The forward, who only played 9:53, did it on a regular basis and got rewarded in the third period when he tipped a Brett Kulak shot to make it 4-3 with 5:17 left.

Sam Bennett (Florida Panthers): The forward has points in six straight games (seven points; three goals, four assists) after scoring the goal that made it 3-1, shooting home a pass from Matthew Tkachuk off a turnover at 13:57 of the second. As usual, he was a physical presence and won crucial board battles all night. He finished with six shot attempts, three hits and won nine of 13 face-offs.

Stock watch

Panthers penalty kill: ⬆️ The Oilers talked about changing up their power play. The Panthers didn’t care. They killed three more power plays and have now killed all 10 power plays faced in this series. Edmonton was 37.3 percent on the power play entering the series.

Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl: ⬇️ The two Edmonton forwards have been the most dynamic players in the playoffs. Not so in this series. McDavid got assists on consolation goals by Philip Broberg and McLeod in the third and has three assists in the series. Neither has scored a goal and Draisaitl has zero points in the three games.

Edmonton crowd: ⬆️ The first Stanley Cup Final game in this city in 18 years and the first in this building was reason for celebration, and the fans brought the party. The introductions and anthems were goosebump-inducing, and the arena was rocking until the wheels fell off in the second period. Even after that disaster, the crowd tried to will the home team back into the fray and almost did.

Edmonton’s defensemen: ⬇️ Bouchard had his pocket picked to start the transition on the first Florida goal and couldn’t contain Barkov before he made the pass that led to the goal. Darnell Nurse, who was questionable to play in Game 3, turned the puck over on the goal by Bennett. Mattias Ekholm was minus-2.

Aaron Ekblad: ⬆️ One of the longest-tenured Panthers, the defenseman was everywhere. He played 24:30, second to Forsling (28:41) for the Panthers. He was plus-1, finishing with two shots, five shot attempts, one hit and four blocked shots. Perhaps his biggest contribution was in the waning seconds of the third when his work pinning the puck along the boards denied the Oilers the chance for a last-gasp scoring chance.

What we learned

Panthers passing their boards

Florida is in control of this series because it has claimed the majority of the 50-50 pucks, especially with its work along the boards. The Panthers have pinned the Oilers in their own end with a relentless puck-hunting routine along the walls in the offensive zone and have tired Edmonton's top offensive players by making them claw their way up the ice through a gauntlet of bodies.

Oilers need a full 60

Edmonton hasn’t been bad throughout this series, only for game-killing stretches. The Oilers owned the first two periods of Game 1 but couldn’t solve Bobrovsky, allowing the Panthers to pull away with a dominant third for a 3-0 win. In Game 2, Edmonton was stymied through two periods and played better in the third in a 4-1 loss. On Thursday, a strong first was scuttled by a last-minute mistake on the game-opening goal. But after tying it up and getting the crowd back in it, they allowed three goals in a 6:19 span. Each goal featured a defensive breakdown. It was a deficit that could not be erased, even with a third period that was undoubtedly Edmonton’s best of the series.

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