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2024 Stanley Cup Final

Florida Panthers Happy to Be in Alberta



Florida Panthers Stanley Cup Final Edmonton Oilers

EDMONTON — Connor McDavid promised that he would drag the Florida Panthers back to Alberta ahead of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final — and that he did, via 5-3 win for the Edmonton Oilers to keep the series alive.

The Panthers, once up 3-0, find themselves with their backs against the wall heading into a pivotal Game 6 on the road, looking to squash out any hopes of this series going to seven games.

So, how are they feeling after that six-hour flight to Alberta?

“Pick a day, pick a time and a question, that answer is completely different. Would you take this?” coach Paul Maurice said. “I would cut your arm off for this opportunity, man. At the start of the game, you say no, and at the end of the game you say ‘Hell yeah, let’s do it.’

“It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. And you can pick the arm.”

After off-handedly guaranteeing a Game 5 victory for Florida, Matthew Tkachuk agrees with that sentiment.

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“I think we are very comfortable in this position right now,”Tkachuk said. “Obviously being up three games to zero, we wouldn’t have wanted it to go to this point, but we knew they were going to have a push. They’re an unbelievable team, they’ve  had a great postseason and we knew this wouldn’t be a four-game series, let’s be honest here.

“So, we’re comfortable in this position. We were in this position a couple series ago in Boston. We played the Rangers and had a similar position going there for Game 5. So, we’re very comfortable right now. We’re excited, we know it’s going to be a great environment and hopefully it’s their last game of the season.”

Some around the hockey world say the pressure has shifted towards the Panthers given the circumstances, but they believe it’s been there since they took the series lead in the first place.

And they are embracing all of it.

“The most dangerous man in the world is the guy who’s god nothing to lose,” Maurice said. “And when you have something to protect, sometimes, you feel the pressure to protect it, so there’s an evening out in this series now.

“‘I think the pressure is closer to you…’ blah blah blah. We’ll take all of it. Feel free.”

The one thing Maurice has preached over the past few closeout games is to take the focus off of that pressure and reduce it to just winning a hockey game.

At the start of both Games 4 and 5, that proved to be hard — both getting started by mistakes on the power play following a period where they were chasing the game for too long to get back into it.

They’re hoping to get over that hump and play Game 6 on their own terms.

“I think it’s a challenge and we’ve been certainly been trying to learn how to get better at,” Sam Reinhart said.

“I think any series, as you see that finish line right in front of you, it gets harder and harder and the other team gets a little more desperate. So, I mean, it’s a constant learning experience to go through that. I don’t think there’s ever been a champion ever in the history of the sport that’s had a perfect playoff run. We’re no different and they’re no different. We’re in this position for a reason. Tomorrow’s a new day and we’re thrilled.”

So, are they angry about being in Alberta right now?

“We’re here to win the Cup,” Kevin Stenlund said. “In 5, 6, 7? It doesn’t really matter, we’re here to win one game.”

More FHN Coverage of the Florida Panthers:

Panthers Lead Best of 7 Series 3-2

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