Oilers' goal to win Game 5 vs. Panthers, 'drag them back to Alberta'

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Win or lose, the Edmonton Oilers are headed home after Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on Tuesday night. It's become their stated mission to force the Florida Panthers to join them.

"Drag them back to Alberta" has become an unofficial slogan ahead of Game 5 (8 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN+) for the Oilers, who trail 3-1 in the series. Captain Connor McDavid coined the phrase after Edmonton avoided elimination with an emphatic 8-1 victory in Game 4 at home.

"We've got to go to Florida and do a job and drag them back to Alberta," McDavid said after Game 4.

Teammate Connor Brown echoed those comments on Tuesday.

"Every time you're back in Edmonton, it seems to get louder and louder, when you didn't expect it could get any louder. So that's the goal," Brown said. "We're going to try to drag 'em back to Alberta."

Added forward Dylan Holloway: "The last thing they want to do is come back to Edmonton and that's where we plan on bringing them."

This year's Stanley Cup Final features the furthest distance between finalists in NHL history: 2,541 miles.

Of course, a return to Edmonton for Game 6 isn't just about a long plane ride. It would mean the Oilers will have continued their improbable comeback, becoming just the fourth team in NHL history to go down 3-0 to start the Stanley Cup Final and rally to force a Game 6. Only one team, the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, went on to win the Cup.

"I mean, it's what we've got to do," McDavid said. "You guys have been doing the flight. It's a long flight. It's not the most enjoyable flight. So just make them go on one more plane ride, one more flight. That's all we can really do."

A win Tuesday also would mean the Oilers would get back in front of their raucous fans, who energized their offensive explosion in Game 4.

"It was a great atmosphere and we'd love to experience that again. Absolutely love that," coach Kris Knoblauch said. "I'd love to see another situation where we can play back there for Game 6."

If the Oilers are going to "drag them back to Alberta," they'll have to break through against the Panthers in a way they couldn't in Games 1 and 2. Florida outscored Edmonton 7-1 in those two wins, as goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who was pulled in Game 4, gave up just one goal and posted a .980 save percentage.

With multiple days of rest this postseason, Bobrovsky is 5-1 with a 1.68 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage.

Edmonton, however, has shown that it gets stronger as series go longer. With the Game 4 win against Florida, the Oilers are now 9-1 after Game 3 through four rounds. Goalie Stuart Skinner is 8-0 with a .944 save percentage in Games 4-7 of each series.

"It's not a matter of what people say. It's a matter of what we believe, and what happens in our dressing room," Skinner said. "Here we are, again, facing elimination. And we're gonna fight together, just like we always did."