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2024 Stanley Cup Final

Paul Maurice Won’t Say It, But Pressure is On the Florida Panthers



Florida panthers
Florida Panthers coach Paul Maurice leaves a news conference following a 5-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final against on Tuesday night in Sunrise. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

SUNRISE — For the second time in a week, Paul Maurice’s postgame press conference was not what many have become accustomed to from the coach of the Florida Panthers.

Maurice was not glib, nor did he offer many lengthy answers from the media following a 5-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final.

The Panthers had a 3-0 lead in the Cup Final but has now lost the past two.

A coronation was ready to be held for Maurice and his Panthers following that Game 3 win in Edmonton — only the Oilers want to keep on playing.

Now, the Panthers will have to put their beachfront parade on hold another couple of days — at least — as they will be heading back to Edmonton for Game 6.

Paul Maurice, one should note, never said his team should sweep the Oilers.

Far from it.

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But there is little doubt that the pressure of this series has now shifted to the Panthers as they went from having four games left to win one and claim the Stanley Cup to only having two.

The Panthers can close this series out and win the Stanley Cup on Friday night in Game 6 at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

“We were pretty good,’’ said Maurice, whose team almost erased a 4-1 second-period deficit but did not come closer than 4-3 in the third.

“Momentum is not an issue. We played a hell of a game. We gave up a shorthanded goal. That’s got to stop. That’s two. We got some sticks on some hands there for the first time, and ended up in the penalty box for it. So we’re going to have to be real mindful of that because we know that’s going to lead to a penalty.

“After that, the 5-on-5 game was pretty good. … But it’s not about chances. I didn’t mind our game. I thought we were alright. we should be intensely interested in the next one and see how that’s played.”

Yes, the Panthers should be intensely interested in Game 6 on Friday night because most of Alberta will be in full throat when they get that game going.

Edmonton was left for dead following Florida’s 4-3 win in Game 3 last Thursday night but now, the Oilers certainly have life.

A win for the certainly-favored Oilers on Friday would force a Game 7 here on Monday.

Of the 28 previous teams to fall behind 3-0 in the Stanley Cup Final, 20 got swept; Florida lost that chance in an 8-1 loss to the Oilers in Game 4 last Saturday night.

Florida will now try to be the second team to win in 6 after being up 3-0 — and only one team has ever won a Cup Final down 3-0 and that was the 1942 Maple Leafs.

Regardless, the Oilers have life headed home.

The Panthers still remain in control. They have two games to win one.

Edmonton remains on the verge of having its season end.

“I know a lot of guys counted us out,’’ Edmonton coach Kris Knoblauch said. “We’ve been counted out a lot through the playoffs, regular season, whatever. But it doesn’t faze the group in there. They’ve got a lot of belief — a lot of belief and just enjoying every extra day because we were counted out a long time ago and we’re still here playing hockey in June and have the opportunity where we are going back to Edmonton for Game 6. There’s a lot to smile about.”

Florida fell behind 1-0 after the first period on the fifth shorthanded goal allowed in this postseason and the second straight one given up to Connor Brown in as many games.

By the second, the Panthers were down 3-0 before Matthew Tkachuk snapped a nine-game goal drought and trailed 4-1 before Evan Rodrigues got his fourth of the series.

The Panthers cut it to 4-3 early in the third on a nice goal from Oliver Ekman-Larsson off a Tkachuk feed — but that was as close as they got.

Edmonton ended it on Connor McDavid’s second goal of the night, this one into an empty net, as the Oilers star has eight points in the past two games.

“I’m not pumping tires. I’m not rubbing backs. I don’t think we need that at all,’’ Maurice said. “Everybody feels probably exactly the way I do right now: I’m not feeling deflated. Neither is the hockey team. They’re not feeling deflated. A little grumpy.”

Up 3-0, Maurice was still talking about this series going to 7 so, perhaps he was setting us all up for an exciting finish which looked to be a foregone conclusion after 3.

“Absolutely nothing has changed for our situation in the last two games except we learned some things,’’ Maurice said. “Some lessons we don’t need to learn, we’ve learned them enough.

“But we keep getting taught those lessons, but nothing’s changed for us. Not one thing.”

More FHN Coverage of the Florida Panthers:

Panthers Lead Best of 7 Series 3-2
  • When: Friday, 8 p.m.
  • Where: Rogers Place; Edmonton, Alberta
  • National TV: ABC
  • Streaming: ESPN+/Hulu
  • Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Series Schedule, All Games 8 p.m. on ABC — Game 1: @Florida 3, Edmonton 0;Game 2: @Florida 4, Edmonton 1; Game 3: Florida 4, @Edmonton 3; Game 4: @Edmonton 8, Florida 1; Game 5: Edmonton at Florida, Tuesday; Game 6: Florida at Edmonton, Friday; Game 7*:Edmonton at Florida, Monday June 24. (*) – If Necessary
  • How They Got Here — Florida: d. Tampa Bay 4-1, Boston 4-2, New York Rangers 4-2; Edmonton: d. Los Angeles 4-1, Vancouver 4-3, Dallas 4-2.
  • This Season (Florida Won 2-0) — At Florida: Panthers 5, Oilers 3 (Nov. 20). At Edmonton: Panthers 5, Oilers 2 (Dec. 17).
  • Last Season: Edmonton Won 2-0
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Oilers lead 23-16-0, 3 ties
  • Postseason History: First Meeting

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