SUNRISE, Fla. -- If the Edmonton Oilers take yet another early minor, this time in Game 6 of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final on Friday (8 p.m. ET; ABC, ESPN+, SN, TVAS, CBC), the Florida Panthers might be advised to take a page from an NFL playbook and decline the penalty.

They won’t, of course. NHL teams would never give up a chance to go on the power play.

Having said that, that scenario hasn’t been kind to the Panthers. In fact, it’s blown up in their collective faces.

“I think at the end of the day we’re writing the script,” Oilers penalty killer extraordinaire Connor Brown said. “We’re taking it in our own hands.”

Breaking down Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals

By setting the tone short-handed. By putting the Panthers behind the eight ball despite having the man advantage.

After building up a 3-0 lead in the best-of-7 Stanley Cup Final, the Panthers have had two chances to put the Oilers away and clinch a Stanley Cup title.

Twice they’ve had the chance to set the tone with early power plays, one each in Games 4 and 5.

Twice they’ve allowed short-handed goals from an Edmonton penalty kill that has opened the scoring in both those games, Oilers wins each time. It is the first time in NHL Final history that a team has opened the scoring in consecutive games with a short-handed goal. 

In Game 4, it was Mattias Janmark who put the Oilers up 1-0 just 3:11 into the game with teammate Darnell Nurse in the penalty box serving a hooking minor. The Oilers would hold the lead for the remainder of the game en route to an 8-1 victory.

In Game 5 Tuesday, it was Brown’s turn to produce short-handed heroics, beating Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky with a nifty deke to give Edmonton a 1-0 advantage at 5:30 of the first period and Oilers defenseman Brett Kulak serving a high-sticking minor. Once again, Edmonton would not trail in the game and ended up with a 5-3 victory.

Suddenly, the Panthers have seen their Stanley Cup Final lead tightened to 3-2 as the series shifts to hockey-crazed Alberta. And they can point part of the blame to the Oilers penalty kill.

“The penalty kill, there's nothing else to really say. It's been great,” Oilers captain Connor McDavid said. “'Brownie' scores a nice goal there to kind of settle us in.”

Consider this: the Panthers power play has gone 1-for-16 in the series and has been outscored 2-1. Not quite the way the Panthers coaching staff drew it up.

“Special teams are so important,” Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch said. “We won so many games throughout the playoffs and regular season on special teams: power play, penalty kill have been really good.”

And a huge reason the Oilers are back in the series.

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