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NHL playoffs: Oilers beat Stars, advance to Stanley Cup final

Stanley, here they come.

The Edmonton Oilers rode their special teams and goaltender to victory on Sunday, beating the Dallas Stars 2-1 to win the National Hockey League’s Western Conference and earn a berth in the Stanley Cup final against the Florida Panthers.

It’s the Oilers’ first trip to the league final since 2006, when they lost to the Carolina Hurricanes in seven games. The Oilers last hoisted the Cup as champions in 1990.

“There were a lot of painful years and a lot of learning along the way,” Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl told reporters following the game.

“To be able to do it at home and for this city and for these fans, and for ourselves as well, it’s great. It’s a great feeling, of course.

“That being said, of course, we’ve got bigger dreams and bigger goals right now.”

Game 1 of the Cup final is slated for Saturday at 6 p.m. in Sunrise, Fla.

The Stars controlled much of the five-on-five play over the game, holding the Oilers to 10 shots, but Edmonton scored twice on the power play and denied the opposition a goal while shorthanded three times.

Their 10 shots are the lowest in NHL history in a series-clinching game.

Stars head coach Pete DeBoer said he and his team are “gutted.”

“They did leave it all out there. We should be playing for a Game 7,” DeBoer said of the Stars, who were the Western Conference’s top seed heading into this year’s playoffs.

“It’s fine lines when you get to this time of the year. I thought we had a little bit of an off night in Game 5 and they won, and they had a bit of an off night tonight and they still found a way to win. That’s the difference. A post in overtime in Game 1 … Tough to swallow.”

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Connor McDavid opened the scoring 4:17 into the game with a highlight-reel effort, stickhandling around a pair of Stars players before backhanding a shot past goalie Jake Oettinger.

Zach Hyman put the Oilers up by two after he took a feed in the slot from McDavid, beat Stars goalie Jake Oettinger blocker side for his 14th goal of the playoffs.

McDavid finished the game with two points, running his playoffs-leading total to 31, while defenceman Evan Bouchard added two assists to give him 27 points (six goals, 21 assists) over the post-season. Star teammate Leon Draisaitl has 28 points (10 goals, 18 assists) to sit second.

Forward Mason Marchment replied for the Stars 9:18 into the third period, taking a feed from behind the Oilers net from Tyler Seguin..

Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner, who didn’t allow a goal until the 30th Stars shot and stopped several chances throughout the game, made 34 saves in the win, giving him a 4-0 record in potential playoff series-clinching games over his career.

Notes

  • With the Stars going zero-for-three on the power play in Game 6, the Oilers have now killed 28 penalties in a row.
  • McDavid became just the sixth player in NHL history to record 30 points or more in more than one playoff campaign, joining Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Mario Lemieux and Nikita Kucherov.
  • Forward Derek Ryan drew into the Oilers’ lineup for Game 6, replacing Sam Carrick.
  • Forward Mavrik Bourque joined the Stars’ lineup, subbing in for Ty Dellandrea. Bourque, 22, was named the American Hockey League’s most valuable player this season after leading the minor-league circuit in scoring. He had made his NHL debut on April 6. 
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