SUNRISE, FL – Draggin' the Cats back to Alberta.

The Oilers wouldn't be denied their opportunity to bring the Stanley Cup Final back to Oil Country after they defeated the Panthers 5-3 on Tuesday night in Game 5 at Amerant Bank Arena, keeping the hardware in the case for another night after Connor McDavid put in a legendary performance with two goals and two assists to help the Blue & Orange stave off elimination for the second straight game.

"I know a lot of guys counted us out," Head Coach Kris Knoblauch said. "Through this, we've been counted out a lot through the playoffs, regular season or whatever, but it doesn't phase the group in there. They've got a lot of belief and a lot of challenges, just enjoying every extra day because we were counted out a long time ago and we're still here playing hockey in June.

"We are going back to Edmonton for Game 6, and there's a lot to smile about."

The Oilers force a Game 6 with Tuesday's 5-3 win over Florida

The Oilers captain served up both of his assists with the man advantage, including a magical move and terrific pass to Corey Perry at the back door during the second period for his first of the playoffs that made it 4-1 before the Panthers fought their way back with the next two goals to set up a crazy final minute with the Florida net empty.

Mattias Janmark hit the post on the empty net before Matthew Tkachuk made a diving goal-line clearance to take away an empty-netter for Evan Bouchard, but the captain corralled the loose puck and fired it into the yawning cage for his 42nd point of the 2024 playoffs that secured the Blue & Orange their 5-3 victory.

The captain became the first player in NHL history to record back-to-back four-point nights in the Stanley Cup Final and leaves him five off the record for points in a single playoff, while Evan Bouchard contributed three helpers to pass Paul Coffey for the most points by a defenceman in a single post-season campaign (26).

Winger Connor Brown potted his second short-handed goal of the playoffs to open the scoring just over five minutes into the first period as part of a 3-for-3 night for the penalty kill, while the Oilers' power play went 2-for-5, including Zach Hyman getting his first goal of the Stanley Cup Final on a deflection early in the middle frame.

Watch the recap of Tuesday's Game 5 Oilers victory in Florida

"It was a total effort from everybody," McDavid said. "Special teams obviously were great. The penalty kill. I mean, there's nothing else to really say. They've been great. Brownie scores a massive goal there to kind of settle us in. The power play got going, and Stu was great. Five-on-five, we just did enough. It was a total team effort top to bottom.

Goaltender Stuart Skinner stopped 29-of-32 shots to help maintain Edmonton's unbeaten record in elimination games in these playoffs (4-0), along with the netminder improving to 9-0 in Games 4-7 in the 2024 postseason with a sub 2.00 goals-against average and .925 save percentage.

"You can never count the Oil out," Skinner said. "Being able to get these two wins are crucial. We got another one to get back in Edmonton, so that's our main focus right now. Even though we were able to win tonight and play a pretty good game, I think we got to still find a way to elevate our game. I mean, you saw tonight how the Panthers came back. They played extremely hard and that's the kind of team that they have. Same with us. So that's why it's such a good battle out there."

The Oilers will head home for Game 6 on Friday in front of their incredible fans, who'll make Rogers Place and ICE District deafening experience for the Panthers when Edmonton tries to send the series back to Sunrise for Game 7.

"The playoffs are the most fun time of the year," McDavid said. "It's special with this group and special with our city and our fans. They make it so fun to go on these runs, and I'm really excited to see the energy that they bring on Friday night."

Connor & Zach speak after Game 5 as the Oilers won 5-3


An early advantage for the Oilers inside the hostile territory of Amerant Bank Arena on Tuesday wouldn't have worked out the way it did without the clutch contributions of Stuart Skinner in the first minute of Game 5, making a confident chest stop on Sam Reinhart in the left circle before he was sliding across the crease to the other circle over a half-minute later to take away a golden opportunity for Aaron Ekblad at the opposite dot with a statement glove save.

The Edmonton product's prowess between the pipes would continue to be critical as the Oilers aimed to extend their unbeaten streak this season in elimination games to 4-0, with his side having little to no room for error after handing Florida a three-games-to-none lead right out of the gate in the Stanley Cup Final.

Then, there's Connor Brown and the infallible Oilers penalty kill.

Brown scores on a shorthanded breakaway to open the scoring

The Panthers' push on home ice with the Stanley Cup in the building came early and often in Game 5, continuing with an early power play before the five-minute mark after Brett Kulak was called for high-sticking. The Oilers had their dynamic short-handed duo of Mattias Janmark and Connor Brown manning the top of the zone, and the pressure coming up the wall from the Swede forced the Panthers into making a mistake on a D-to-D pass.

As the puck came across, Brown got a piece of it to send the puck out of the zone to begin a foot race against Aleksander Barkov that the winger won, leading to a breakaway that the 30-year-old slid around the outstretched right pad of Sergei Bobrovsky for the opening goal and Edmonton's second SHG of the series at 14:30 of the frame.

It was the second straight game where the Oilers opened the scoring with a short-handed marker, making them the first team since the '91 Pittsburgh Penguins to register a SHG in back-to-back games of a Cup Final. With his second of the postseason and his first-career post-season shortie, Brown now has three short-handed points in these playoffs (1G, 2A).

"I always knew how good he is, and I think everybody's seeing it," Hyman said, a former teammate of Brown's in the Maple Leafs organization.

"I think all the Oilers fans are seeing it. He's been one of our best players. Just so impactful in all aspects that he plays. He's been unbelievable on the PK, unbelievable five-on-five, so I think you're just starting to see a taste of what type of player he is and I've seen it for a long time. It's amazing that he's able to show it at the highest level."

Stuart talks to the media after making 29 saves in Tuesday's win


The offence came pouring in from both sides during the middle frame, but the Blue & Orange's unflappable leader Connor McDavid and their unshakable power play found a way to produce when it mattered to give the Oilers a 4-2 lead through two periods of Game 5.

"The biggest thing when a team has their push and they're aggressive is you always want to make the safe play," Knoblauch said. "You don't want to give up the puck. You need to be able to transport the puck, you need to get into the offensive zone, and I don't think there's anybody better at that than Connor is.

"He alleviated a lot of the pressure, which kind of gave us a little breathing room out there."

McDavid recorded a goal and two assists in the second period – including a magical even-strength goal – to reach 41 points this season and pull within six points of setting a new NHL post-season record.

The captain got the secondary assist on Zach Hyman's power-play deflection that came 1:58 into the period on a carry-over penalty to Niko Mikkola that he earned in the dying moments of the first period. McDavid caught Bobrovsky slacking just over three minutes later when he banked his seventh of the playoffs off the netminder's left skate to give his team a 3-0 lead, silencing the crowd inside Amerant Bank Arena.

McDavid sneaks a low shot through Bobrovsky's pads to make it 3-0

The Cats couldn't be expected to go quietly, and a failed clearance by Dylan Holloway near the blueline and a blown tire from Philip Broberg led to Evan Rodrigues dishing a pass down to an open Matthew Tkachuk, who beat Skinner over the glove to cut into the Oilers' lead less than two minutes after they made it a three-goal game.

There was still plenty of magic left in the mitts of McDavid, who then orchestrated an incredible move around three Panthers' defenders as a power play expired before he dished it to the back door for the oncoming Corey Perry to put away, with Bouchard making the first pass to pick up his third assist of the game and pass his Assistant Coach Paul Coffey (1985) for the most assists by a defenceman in single postseason in NHL history with 26.

"I watched him go through three guys and pass it over to me," Perry said. "I mean, I didn't even yell for it. He just saw me going. That's just the type of player he is."

Edmonton's jubilation over another three-goal lead would last only 14 seconds, however, before the Panthers found a response on a goalmouth scramble inside the Oilers crease that went down as Rodrigues' goal after inadvertently going off the glove of Darnell Nurse and over the goal line.

McDavid makes a magnificent move & sets up Perry in front


Just 20 more miles were left to drag this Stanley Cup Final back to Oil Country.

It would not come easy, but the sacrifices were everywhere for the Blue & Orange to send it back to Alberta with the Cats on their heels.

"I think hockey is simple," Hyman said. "You can go through systems and you can go through structure and you can go through all the details, but at the end of the day, it's whoever wins the most battles. That's really it. Most nights, if you look at the end of the game and you watch the game, it's who's winning the battles on the walls, who's winning the net-front battles in front of your net, in front of their net, and that's how goals are scored.

"The more times you can keep the puck in the O-zone, the more chances you get. The more times you can get it out, the less chances you get. It's really simple when you break it down like that."

Corey speaks to the media after Tuesday's win in Game 5

At 15:56 of the third period, the Panthers turned a hard forecheck led by Tkachuk below the goal line into a wide-open one-timer for defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson that he wired top shelf beyond Skinner, making it 4-3 and setting up a nail-biting final few minutes for the Oilers.

But the Oilers locked themselves in for the final few miles, including when the Panthers pulled Bobrovsky for the extra attacker, but the Oilers played simple and direct as they tightened up their defensive game.

"Not too much was going through the mind, to be honest," Skinner said. "You're just trying to be in the moment and make the plays when you have to. There's obviously some nerves I think on both sides. Everyone was probably feeling it the way, but we were able to play and finish it out. We were just getting pucks in deep. We were playing a very simple game and I think that was really important for us. Even though they got a really big goal after that, I felt like we shut it down pretty good. So that's a credit to the guys."

With the net empty, Janmark pushed the puck off the post before Matthew Tkachuk made a desperation goal-line clearance soon after to keep the Panthers' behind by only one goal as time dwindled down, but McDavid was there to collect the puck and fire it into the empty net, securing the Oilers their 5-3 victory in Game 5.

McDavid makes it a 5-3 final by scoring into the empty net