National Hockey League
Preview
Florida at Edmonton
When: 8:00 PM ET, Friday, June 21, 2024
Where: Rogers Place, Edmonton, Alberta

Pressure? What pressure?

That is the attitude of the Florida Panthers are they prepare for their third chance to close out the Stanley Cup Final on Friday against the host Edmonton Oilers.

The Panthers appeared well on their way to claiming the first championship in franchise history while winning the first three games of the best-of-seven series. They have dropped the last two games, the latest Tuesday's 5-3 loss in Sunrise, Fla.

The Panthers are doing their best to remain calm about the moment, knowing full well the screws will tighten if they drop this game and head to a deciding Game 7 at home.

"Go up there and we've got to win one game," forward Evan Rodrigues said. "That's our mindset and that's what we're going to do."

That said, the Panthers are not sticking with the status quo. Coach Paul Maurice appears set to make a couple of changes based on Thursday's practice. Left winger Carter Verhaeghe, in need of an offensive jolt, skated on the top line while fellow left winger Rodrigues switched spots and was moved to the second line.

As well, forward Nick Cousins received a present on his 31st birthday with news he will be back in the lineup in place of Kyle Okposo on the fourth line. Cousins had been a healthy scratch for the past eight postseason games.

"Those guys that have kind of come in and out of the lineup, you can just tell that it's not easy for them," Maurice said. "But in their off-time, and being under less game intensity, they come back in and they're jacked."

Whether those roster moves and the reset after last game are the tonic for the Panthers remains to be seen, but the Oilers have pulled back from the brink with a couple of outstanding performances.

They are looking to join only the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs to win the Stanley Cup after losing the first three games of the finals.

"We feel very fortunate to be in this situation, but I know I have a team full of guys who are hungry to make sure they get to play two more games and not just one," coach Kris Knoblauch said.

The Oilers have executed the game plan perfectly to turn the tide. Wins in Games 4 and 5 came in emphatic fashion by a combined 13-4 score. Holding the Panthers in check while showing their high-octane offense has been an impressive feat.

"It's been lovely to see," goaltender Stuart Skinner said. "I think we've got a lot of guys fully committed to playing both ends of the ice, which is an absolute need, especially at this time of the year."

Of course it helps when the Oilers have superstar captain Connor McDavid leading the way. McDavid, who is only the third player in NHL history to collect 40 points in a single postseason, posted consecutive four-point performances to elevate his team to this point in their comeback. He is at 42, only behind Wayne Gretzky with 47 in 1985, Mario Lemieux with 44 in 1991 and Gretzky with 43 in 1988.

This year's playoff run has shown McDavid's ability to embrace the biggest of moments and excel during them.

"You spend your life working to get into a position like this. When you're here, you think there's going to be some magic feeling, but it's all been pretty normal," McDavid said. "This has always been part of the plan for our group. A position like this, playing big games at home, big moments, and there's another tomorrow night."

Oilers forward Evander Kane is a game-time decision for Game 6, Knoblauch announced Friday morning.

Kane sat out the last three games due to an undisclosed injury. He skated with forwards Sam Gagner and Sam Carrick outside of the team's top four lines in practice on Thursday.

--Field Level Media

Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away Day Night Div
Florida 67-29-6-2 L2 34-16-3-0 33-13-3-2 10-2-3-0 57-27-3-2 25-8-3-1
Edmonton 63-35-6-1 W2 35-12-5-0 28-23-1-1 10-2-0-1 53-33-6-0 26-11-1-0
Last Meeting
Florida Edmonton
Date Away Home Shots Saves PP Shots Saves PP
6/18/24 EDM 5 FLA 3 32 19 0-3 24 29 2-5
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Total Points Player  
Florida E. Rodrigues 2
Edmonton C. McDavid 4
Goals Player  
Florida O. Ekman-Larsson 1
Edmonton C. McDavid 2
Assists Player  
Florida S. Bennett 1
Edmonton E. Bouchard 3
Saves Player  
Florida S. Bobrovsky 19
Edmonton S. Skinner 29
Season
Total Points Player  
Florida M. Tkachuk 112
Edmonton C. McDavid 181
Goals Player  
Florida S. Reinhart 66
Edmonton Z. Hyman 71
Assists Player  
Florida M. Tkachuk 80
Edmonton C. McDavid 137
Saves Player  
Florida S. Bobrovsky 1973
Edmonton S. Skinner 1937
Quickchart Matchup
Florida Off vs  Edmonton Def
3.22 GF
2.84 GA
33.3 Shots
27.5 Shots
78 PP
57 PK
Edmonton Off vs  Florida Def
3.54 GF
2.44 GA
32.7 Shots
27.3 Shots
86 PP
60 PK