scf gm2 edm sider

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The ability to overcome adversity has been a calling card for the Edmonton Oilers this season, and they will have to draw upon it again after a 4-1 loss against the Florida Panthers in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final to fall down 2-0 in the best-of-7 series.

Oilers captain Connor McDavid said they are up to the challenge with the next two games in Edmonton, starting with Game 3 at Rogers Place on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; ABC, ESPN+, CBC, TVAS, SN).

“It’s exciting, it’s another opportunity for our group to come together and dig our way out,” McDavid said. “It’s supposed to be hard; it’s supposed to be difficult, and I’m excited to see what our group is made of. I’m excited to see our group come together, I’m excited to see us fight through adversity and I’m looking forward to people doubting us again with our backs against the wall.”

Edmonton’s entire season has been filled with adversity, so it is not out of character to see it falling into another hole.

The Oilers dropped to the bottom of the NHL standings after 12 games (2-9-1), underwent a coaching change, trailed 3-2 in the best-of-7 to the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference Second Round and lost two of the first three games to the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Final.

“We have a great opportunity at home,” Oilers forward Zach Hyman said. “Good teams take care of business (at home), they’re a good team, they won two games at home. We were right there, this one they deserved and the last one, their goalie played well obviously and that’s part of being a good team. We have an opportunity to win one game back home and get back in the series.”

SCF, Gm2: Oilers @ Panthers Recap

Edmonton scored the opening goal of Game 2 at 11:17 of the first period, when defenseman Mattias Ekholm kept the puck on a 2-on-1 rush with the teams playing 4-on-4 and found a spot through the pads of Florida goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.

The goal was the first for the Oilers in the series, but proved to be the only bright spot in the game as the Panthers took over territorially. Florida outshot Edmonton 9-4 in the first period and 13-3 in the second.

“They’re a great team, they defend really well, they have a great goalie, they’re doing a lot of really good things,” McDavid said. “It’s the Stanley Cup Final and they’re making it tough.”

Edmonton now has to win four of the next five games to win the Stanley Cup and end the drought by a Canada-based team dating back to 1993 when the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Los Angeles Kings.

McDavid, however, is not looking that far ahead when it comes to climbing out of the hole.

“You win a game, whatever day that is (Thursday),” he said. “We have to be better, and we can be better for sure. I thought they went up a level and we didn’t match it today.”

Going into the game the Oilers were hoping to build on a strong performance in Game 1 on Saturday, where they outshot the Panthers 32-18, but were unable to beat Bobrovsky in a 3-0 loss.

Now they have to recoup both mentally and physically.

Oilers forward Warren Foegele was assessed a major penalty and a game misconduct for kneeing Panthers forward Eetu Luostarinen at 9:21 of the first, leaving Edmonton a forward short.

Darnell Nurse then sustained an undisclosed injury after being hit in the corner by Panthers forward Evan Rodrigues at 8:16 of the first period. Nurse had three shifts the rest of the game and spent most of his time on the bench.

“I think we came here, and we played well enough that we should have had the split,” Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch said. “That doesn’t always happen, and we just have to take it one game at a time. I don’t see any reason to panic or do anything drastic. If we win one of these (at home), which I think we’re capable of doing, we’re really happy. I don’t want to get too caught up in that we’re down 2-0 and we’re in a whole lot of trouble. We just have to win the next game.”

In order to keep from falling behind 3-0 in the series, Edmonton is going to need more offensively from its top players. McDavid has one assist in the first two games, while Hyman, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Evander Kane have yet to register a point.

Edmonton is getting its opportunities but has yet to convert on seven power plays. The Oilers were 0-for-4 in Game 2.

“We have to work our way out of it, it always starts with work with our group,” McDavid said. “They’re a unique penalty kill, just like they’re a unique team. They’re aggressive, we have to have guys ready for the puck, we have to have guys making good plays. We have to string good plays together and we haven’t been able to do that.”

Hyman said the Oilers top-end players have to be better at home in order to turn the series around.

“Your best players have to be your best players,” Hyman said. “Whether that’s on the power play, whether that’s even strength, whether that’s controlling play, we’re not going to win many games scoring one goal in two games.”