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Stanley Cup: Florida Panthers beat Oilers 4-1, take 2-0 lead in title series

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl knocked Florida’s Aleksander Barkov out of the game. The Panthers made sure they responded by landing the bigger blow.

And the Stanley Cup Final took a heated turn Monday night.

Evan Rodrigues had a pair of third-period goals, Niko Mikkola and Aaron Ekblad also scored and the Panthers used yet another airtight finishing kick to pull away and beat the Oilers 4-1 for a 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Final.

Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 18 shots for Florida, which was 1-8 all-time in Cup final games before this series started — and now is two wins away from capturing its first championship. Score through two games: Florida 7, Edmonton 1.

“A six-man job against the best players in the world,” Ekblad said.

But the win came with a price for Florida as the Panthers lost Barkov, their captain when Edmonton forward Draisaitl launched toward him midway through the third period and hit him in the head. Barkov remained down for some time, needed help getting to the bench and went down the tunnel for the Florida locker room for further evaluation.

Florida coach Paul Maurice offered no update on Barkov’s condition, and was far more tight-lipped than he tends to be after wins.

“This isn’t The Oprah Winfrey Show,” Maurice said of the Barkov hit. “My feelings don’t matter.”

Mattias Ekholm scored and Stuart Skinner stopped 25 shots for the Oilers, who now have to buck some serious history.

Edmonton has only successfully rallied from a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series once — against San Jose in Round 2 of the 2006 playoffs. And teams that start the Stanley Cup Final down 2-0 have come back to win only five times in 54 previous situations.

“I think we feel that we came here and played well enough that we should have a split,” Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch said. “It doesn’t always happen.”

The series resumes with Game 3 in Edmonton on Thursday night.

“We can certainly be better,” Draisaitl said. “It starts with me.… I certainly have a lot more to give. Not my best tonight. Obviously, owning that.”

Draisaitl was given only a minor penalty for roughing on the hit that knocked Barkov from the game. Rodrigues got a tip-in goal to make it 3-1,