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Oilers' high-powered offence held in check again by Panthers in Game 2

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SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — The Edmonton Oilers left Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final feeling pretty good.

They were shut out three goals to none, but it took a monumental performance from Florida Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky to neutralize their offensive firepower.

The Oilers weren't shutout Monday night, but the result was the same — another loss, this one putting Edmonton in an 0-2 hole as the series shifts to Canada.

“We just have to take it one game at a time,” said Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch. “I don’t see any reason to panic or do anything drastic. If we win one of these, which I think we were capable of doing, we’re really happy. So I don’t want to get too caught up in we’re down two-nothing.”

One of the highest-scoring teams in the NHL, Edmonton has managed just one goal in the first two games of the final.

The Panthers outshot the Oilers 22-7 through the first two periods Monday.

Edmonton's seven shots on goal through 40 minutes were the fewest by a team through two periods of a Stanley Cup Final since Game 6 of the 2006 championship series when the Carolina Hurricanes managed that many on goal against the Oilers.

That's one game after Edmonton outshot the Panthers 32-18 in a Game 1 performance that star Connor McDavid described as a confidence booster.

McDavid, who was kept off the scoresheet in Game 1, assisted Mattias Ekholm on Edmonton’s only goal of the night. It was a 4-on-4 shot on the Oilers’ first shot on goal of the game.

McDavid leads all postseason scorers with 32 points but still has not scored in this series despite numerous opportunities, including on a breakaway late in the third Monday night, only to be denied by Bobrovsky again.

“We've got to be better,” McDavid said. “I thought they went up a level (from Game 1) and we didn't match them today.”

Knoblauch said the Panthers have made it tough on Edmonton defensively, but playing shorthanded also hurt them.

Edmonton’s Warren Foegele was ejected in the first period for a knee-on-knee hit that knocked Florida’s Eetu Luostarinen from the game briefly. Defenseman Darnell Nurse was injured in that period, leaving the Oilers with only 11 forwards and five defensemen for much of the game.

“We missed Foegele with his speed," Knoblauch said, "the amount of penalties took away the flow of the game a little bit, but I think we weren’t as efficient breaking the puck out as we were in the first game.”

Edmonton's other star, the 2020 league MVP Leon Draisaitl, still has no points in the series and hasn't been much of a factor. Draisaitl was penalized for roughing in the third period when he shoved Florida captain Aleksander Barkov.

“I certainly have a lot more to give,” Draisaitl said. "Not my best tonight. Obviously I'm owning that. We’ll regroup and make sure I’ll be better in Game 3.”

Despite no goals from the Oilers powerful duo so far in the series, Knoblauch indicated he was happy with the play of his stars.

“Yeah we’d like some more goals, but I think our top guys have been pretty good,” he said.

Goalie Stuart Skinner, for his part, followed his 15-save performance in the opener with 25 on Monday night.

The experience of the Panthers, who were in the final just a year ago, has clearly frustrated the Oilers, and Florida has found a way to limit them at what they do best — Edmonton came into the series with the best power play in the postseason at 37.3%, but is now 0 for 7.

“We have to work our way out of it," McDavid said, "it always starts with work with our group. 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.”

Edmonton, down 0-2 for the first time in the postseason, now has to accomplish a feat that few teams have ever done in Stanley Cup Final history. Only five teams in 54 tries have lost the first two games of the final and come back to win.

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AP NHL playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL