The Edmonton Oilers secured a 2-1 victory over the Dallas Stars, clinching the Western title and earning a spot in the Stanley Cup Final against Florida

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Edmonton Oilers players celebrates after a goal

The Edmonton Oilers completed their journey from last place to first in the Western Conference. Now, they have a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup.

Connor McDavid’s goal and assist in the first period gave Edmonton an early lead. Stuart Skinner, playing for his hometown team, made 34 saves to secure the Oilers’ victory over the Dallas Stars, winning the Western Conference final in six games.

Zach Hyman also scored on a power play in the first period, and Evan Bouchard contributed with two assists. This win marks the Oilers’ first appearance in the Stanley Cup Final since 2006.

Their next stop is Florida for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, with the series starting on Saturday night. The distance between Edmonton and Sunrise, Florida, where the Florida Panthers play, is the longest ever between opponents in Stanley Cup Final history.

McDavid expressed his excitement amid the postgame celebrations, praising the passionate support of Edmonton fans. Mason Marchment scored for the Stars in the third period, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Oilers’ lead. Jake Oettinger made eight saves for the Stars, who had a strong regular season but couldn’t maintain their lead in the conference finals, similar to the fate of the New York Rangers.

Leon Draisaitl takes the puck forward

“Probably our best game of the series,” said Stars forward Jamie Benn. “Didn’t go our way.”

With about 2:20 left, Oettinger went to the bench, but the Stars managed only two shots afterward. Their attempts to tie the game fell short.

“Proud of our group, proud of our fight,” said Stars coach Peter DeBoer. “You’re just gutted. They gave it their all. We should be playing a Game 7, but we’re not. You have to give credit to Edmonton. Their power play was strong, their goalie played well. It’s tough to accept.”

Edmonton’s journey to the Cup final is remarkable. They made it to the title series despite being 10 points out of a playoff spot during the regular season.

Back on Nov. 24, the Oilers had a 5-12-1 record, trailing Seattle and St. Louis by 10 points for the final wild-card spot in the West, and 19 points behind Vegas for the top spot in the conference.

But those tough times are now a distant memory.

After Kris Knoblauch took over as coach from Jay Woodcroft, who was let go after a rough start of 3-9-1, the Oilers began a strong turnaround. They went on an eight-game winning streak, signaling the start of their climb from the bottom of the NHL standings.

Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl hugs after winning the game

Following that streak, the Oilers continued to excel, boasting a 16-game winning streak shortly after. For the remainder of the regular season, they were the top-performing team in the league, with a record of 44-15-5. During this period, they led in goals scored (239) and goal differential (plus-76).

Now, they’re eyeing the final prize. Similar to the Panthers, who also refrained from touching the conference championship trophy, the Oilers are focused on the bigger trophy — the Stanley Cup.

“We’re not finished yet. This is just a step forward for us,” said Edmonton’s Mattias Ekholm.

Edmonton joins a select group in NHL history, becoming only the third team to reach the final after being 10 or more points out of a playoff spot. The other two teams were Toronto in 1958-59 and St. Louis in 2018-19, with the Blues winning the Cup that season.

Despite only managing three shots in the first period of Game 6, the Oilers made them count. Connor McDavid scored an impressive goal, maneuvering through traffic before putting the puck past Oettinger for a 1-0 lead.

“Connor McDavid doing what he does best,” remarked Skinner.


By Christopher Kamila

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