Oilers now have a chance of both the ultimate comeback or heartbreak

With a 5-3 win in Game 5, the Oilers now move a step closer to either one of the most spectacular cup wins in NHL history or falling agonisingly short.
2024 Stanley Cup Final - Game Five
2024 Stanley Cup Final - Game Five / Elsa/GettyImages

They say that you're not in trouble in the Stanley Cup Final until you lose at home. However, whereas this was the case for the Edmonton Oilers after game three, it's now also the case for the Florida Panthers following game five.

From seemingly being dead in the water with no wins after three games versus the Panthers, the Oilers have now somehow turned this series on its head. After destroying their Stanley Cup rivals 8-1 in game four, they have now won two in a row thanks to Tuesday night's impressive 5-3 victory on the road back in Florida.

As you'd expect with this Oilers team though, they didn't make it easy on themselves. After taking 3-0 and and 4-1 leads in the second period, they found themselves hanging on for dear life after the Panthers pulled to within 4-3 just 4:04 into the final 20 minutes.

What followed must have felt like an eternity to the Oilers and their fans, as the Panthers pushed hard to tie the game. However, Connor McDavid finally put the game to bed with just 19 seconds remaining, with an empty netter that released a roar that was equal parts ecstasy and relief.

McDavid putting overrated claim to bed

As a lot of Oilers fans will already be aware, Greg Cote of the Miami Herald recently made the asinine claim that McDavid was overrated. Cote based this all but purely on the seven-time NHL All-Star having never won the Stanley Cup, in the process dismissing the reality that hockey is among the ultimate team sports.

With every passing game since, McDavid is making Cote looking even more of a fool for his take, as he continues to make history. He has the record for most assists by a player in a single playoff campaign, and following Tuesday night, is now the first to have back-to-back games of four points in the Stanley Cup Final.

As a result, the three-time Hart Memorial Trophy winner is just the third player in NHL history to reach 40 playoff points in a single year, and the first since a certain Wayne Greztky all the way back in 1993. McDavid now sits on 42 points, and with still at least one more game to edge ever closer to Gretzky's all-time record of 47.

McDavid has continually reinforced why he is still the best player in the game, but we are now entering really special territory. He may never catch Gretzky for the best of all time, but he sure as hell is on the way to being on a short list of contenders.

The ultimate victory or defeat

Given the heroics of the Oilers superstar, the Oilers and their fans now face two very genuine but contradictory possibilities. Two opposing scenarios, which will either result in jubilation or despair.

On the one hand, if the Oilers can find a way to win two more games, it will go down as just the second time in NHL history that a team has recovered from a 3-0 deficit to claim the Stanley Cup. As has been repeated ad nauseam of late, the only team to do this so far is the Toronto Maple Leafs, more than eight decades ago back in 1942.

On the other hand, if the Panthers hold on to prevail, it will be a case of what could have been for the Oilers. About how they only have themselves to blame, haunted by making far too many avoidable mistakes and not playing up their full potential on a consistent enough basis.

In theory, all the pressure is still on the Panthers, who must fear the growing possibility of being the second ever team to throw away a three-game lead. With the first Stanley Cup in team history so close to becoming a reality, the feeling of excitement is slowly being replaced by one of dread.

The Oilers are galvanised, brought back to life by their resounding 8-1 win in game four and now growing in strength and confidence thanks to the 5-3 victory on Tuesday night. As a result, they now get to bring the series back to Edmonton for a third elimination game - something which they're now getting used to.

It could of course all still go very wrong for the Oilers, with the Panthers having already proven they can win at Rogers Place. However, at the very least Sergei Bobrovksy and company are now rattled, and there must be a certain degree of doubt entering their minds.

Next. Oilers outlast Panthers to force Game 6 back in Edmonton. Oilers outlast Panthers to force Game 6 back in Edmonton. dark

Whatever happens from here on out, the Oilers have already shown that when faced with adversity, they stand up to be counted rather than wilt away under the pressure. In the process though, they are now setting themselves up for either the ultimate win or soul-destroying loss.

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