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2024 Stanley Cup Final

Florida Panthers Tuning Out the Noise Going Into Game 7



Florida panthers
Matthew Tkachuk reacts after scoring against the Edmonton Oilers in Game 5 on Tuesday night in Sunrise. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

FORT LAUDERDALE — The Florida Panthers are a loss away from one of the biggest collapses in the history of sports.

They do not seem worried about all of that.

Once up 3-0 on the Edmonton Oilers, the Panthers are approaching Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final with one simple mindset: Find their mojo and focus on winning a hockey game.

One hockey game. That is all they need and the ultimate prize is theirs.

“If you’ve handled the why of where you’re at — and that would be the hockey-specific details — then you don’t carry it forward,” coach Paul Maurice said of his team losing three straight after taking a 3-0 lead on the Oilers.

“I understand every one of your questions, in terms of why you would ask them, because there is a far bigger contextual story that means nothing to me now. But it means everything to you. That’s the story you have to write and that’s what makes this big thing so awesome is the context.”

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The context the outside is looking at?

The Panthers are just the third team in NHL history to find itself in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final after holding a 3-0 series lead.

They would become the second-ever blow the 3-0 lead entirely — only the 1942 Detroit Red Wings have done it after losing to the Toronto Maple Leafs back during World War II  — if they drop Monday night’s game.

That is not what the Panthers are worried about right now.

“To be honest, I haven’t read much on it,” Brandon Montour said. “I don’t know how many times teams come back. We’re just focused on this last game. The history, the media around it. It is what it is. You know, these are two of the best teams in this league. Two tough teams that are going to compete every game and it comes down to this last one. And it should be fun one.”

But the context they are looking at?

Fulfill that childhood dream by winning Game 7 tonight.

“Nobody ever has played on a backdoor rink in Canada and scored the Game 3 overtime winner in the qualifying round,” Maurice said. “And that is the context of this game and we will live in that context.”

All 18 skaters who are lacing up for the Panthers have brought up that same scenario.

With the sun going down on the outdoor rink near the childhood home — and mom calling them in for dinner — they pictured themselves in that moment scoring the game-winning goal of Game 7 of the Cup Final.

“I was one of those kids, for sure, that played by himself outdoors, or at home, or literally anywhere and thinking ‘this is Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final,’” Sasha Barkov said. “I’ve had many of those memories, but now it’s becoming a truth tomorrow. It’s the most exciting time to be a hockey player.”

Despite what happened before it, it’s happening now.

“For both of us, at one point of the series, we lost three games. It doesn’t matter how you draw it up,” Matthew Tkachuk said. “They lost the first three, we lost the next three. It’s even right now and it doesn’t matter what has happened to get to this point. It’s easy to forget. You forget everything that has happened this whole season, really, just focusing on one game at home.

“How can you not be so jacked up for this? This is an absolutely incredible, incredibly opportunity. You want to recognize and remember some of the good things that helped you beat these guys earlier in the series, but I’m trying to forget all of it and go in there and try to win this one game. That’s what it comes down to.”

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