Mattias Janmark Connor Brown spark Oilers Game 4

EDMONTON -- Mattias Janmark and Connor Brown are having a strong Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Edmonton Oilers, making up for what each admits was a subpar regular season for him.

The forwards were the catalysts in an 8-1 win against the Florida Panthers in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Place to stave off elimination.

“In playoffs everything gets a little simpler as you go along, plays matter more,” Janmark said. “You try to take pride in that in Game 38 (of regular season) too but it’s not that easy to get noticed or it doesn't matter as much then. We've been able to capitalize and score a few goals and when you go through a tough year like both of us did production wise, you look at the playoffs and one goal then means more than five in regular season.”

The Oilers cut the Panthers’ lead in the best-of-7 series to 3-1, with Game 5 at Amerant Bank Arena on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; ABC, ESPN+, SN, TVAS, CBC).

“They’ve both been fantastic, they’ve both been huge pieces of the team,” Oilers captain Connor McDavid said. “What they’ve been doing on the (penalty) kill, I thought the whole line played great they really got us going.”

Janmark scored a short-handed goal at 3:11 of the first period to give Edmonton a 1-0 lead. Brown led a 2-on-1 rush against defenseman Brandon Montour after chipping the puck past Panthers forward Carter Verhaeghe at the Oilers blue line.

Brown faked a shot on Sergei Bobrovsky, who came out to challenge, then went around the goalie and slid the puck out in front for Janmark to backhand it into the net. It was the second short-handed goal of the playoffs for Janmark.

“He’s so smart, he’s a smart player,” Brown said of Janmark. “I think that we’re both cerebral players and understand the nuances of the game and we’re able to read off each other, especially defensively. He’s incredibly smart and that’s his No. 1 asset.”

Janmark helped the Oilers extend the lead to 2-0, setting up Adam Henrique at 7:48 of the first. Janmark spun away from Panthers defenseman Niko Mikkola along the board in the neutral zone, took the puck down the left boards, and sent a centering pass out to Henrique to tip it past Bobrovsky.

“We talked about before that we’ve been playing pretty good, but there were things we could do better,” Janmark said. “We can play a simpler game and just stick with it, and we got rewarded tonight and kept pushing.”

Janmark and Brown are key members of the Oilers penalty kill, which is leading the playoffs with a 93.6 percent efficiency.

“Those two might have been our best players,” Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch said. “You talk about ‘Brownie,’ this was a difficult season. He didn’t play last year, he had a major surgery, and he was building his game, and it was difficult. Throughout the season he just kept getting better and better and better.

“Now, throughout the playoffs, he’s what we anticipated. That’s what we wanted him for and with him and Janmark playing together and whoever their centerman has been, right now ‘Rico’ [Henrique] is our guy and they have been playing well together, but they’re definitely a big part of our success.”

Brown missed all but four games last season with the Washington Capitals when he sustained a season-ending knee injury, He had 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 71 games during the regular season with the Oilers and was in and out of the lineup as a healthy scratch for parts of it. He’s become a regular in the playoffs and has five points (one goal, four assists) in 16 games.

“I think we’re just developing more and more chemistry and more and more confidence,” Brown said. “I think for me, I think my goal was to get better as the year went on coming off a long injury and missing last season. I feel like more and more like myself.”

Brown said he feels better now than he did earlier in the season when he was still recovering from knee surgery.

“It’s not even close,” he said. “That’s all thanks to the strength and conditioning staff here, they’re the best in the world. I’m so lucky, we’re so lucky that we get to work with guys like this and their help to bring me where I was to where I am physically, it’s tough to put into words.”

The lopsided win has strengthened the hope they can come back and win the Stanley Cup. The 1942 Maple Leafs are the only team to come back from down 3-0 in the Final of the 28 instances at team has fallen behind by that deficit.

“There is still a of belief in this room,” Brown said. “Winning it like that would just make sense for this group the way the season has gone. This has been a unique season and this is a unique group.”

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