Zach Hyman hits 70 goals in 2023-24, Oilers force Game 7 in Cup final | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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Zach Hyman hits 70 goals in 2023-24, Oilers force Game 7 in Cup final

Florida Panthers' goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (72) is scored on by Edmonton Oilers' Zach Hyman (18) during second period Game 6 action of the NHL Stanley Cup finals in Edmonton, Friday, June 21, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

EDMONTON - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins could only watch.

The Edmonton Oilers forward had just sprung linemate Zach Hyman on a breakaway in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final.

"Waiting, waiting, waiting," Nugent-Hopkins said.

Hyman, as he's done so many times this season and in these playoffs, made no mistake.

The winger's goal Friday night late in the second period gave the Oilers some breathing room at 3-0 on the way to a 5-1 victory over the Florida Panthers inside a rocking Rogers Place to force Game 7 in a slugfest final.

"I was just in the moment," said Hyman, who beat Sergei Bobrovsky to the backhand. "It didn't feel so long."

The goal, which matched Pavel Bure's 16 in 1994 and moved him two short of Joe Sakic's 18 in 1996 for the most in a single playoff over the last three decades, marked the 70th time he's found the back of the net in 2023-24 after putting up 54 in the regular season.

"Heckuva hockey player. Very unique," Oilers centre Leon Draisaitl said. "He's like a little bull. He jumps out of the gate like nobody can. His first couple of strides are so powerful, and I think you really see it (in Game 6) on the goal. He just explodes out of there and he's gone, and he's calm, cool and collected in front of the net.

"Just knows where to go. Really smart hockey player."

Hyman never scored more than 21 goals with the Toronto Maple Leafs before the club decided to cut ties in the summer of 2021. Once that decision was made for him, he pivoted to signing on in the Alberta capital with Draisaitl and Connor McDavid.

"Doesn't take a night off," Nugent-Hopkins said. "Gets to dirty areas, but he can score in many different ways. He's been a horse for us all season.

"(Game 6) was probably the biggest one he's had."

Hyman scored 27 times in his first season with the Oilers and 36 in 2022-23 before exploding this season.

And the goals come every which way.

"He's either standing in front of a 95-mile-per-hour slapshot and getting a tip," Edmonton defenceman Darnell Nurse said. "Or making a big play on a breakaway. He's been huge for us.

"In big moments he's scored big goals."

Hyman's second goal of the final came on a night where McDavid was held off the scoresheet after putting up a combined eight points in Games 4 and 5 to drag the Oilers back from the brink.

Game 7 goes Monday in Sunrise, Fla.

"That's why sports is amazing, because the unthinkable can happen," Hyman said. "We're in a spot where we thought it could happen, when nobody else believed that it could. Now we've got an opportunity. That's all you can ask for."

"It's a great story," he added. "But you need to finish it."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 22, 2024.

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News from © The Canadian Press, 2024
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