NHL: Grip loosened, Panthers remain upbeat as series shifts to Edmonton

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Head coach Paul Maurice and the Florida Panthers are locked on the prize and comforted by their 3-2 lead in the Stanley Cup Final as the series shifts back to Edmonton.

Maurice and the Panthers led the best-of-seven series 3-0 when the famous hardware first appeared in Edmonton to signal the possibility of the end of the championship series.

But that lead is down to a narrow 3-2 advantage as the Oilers return home with consecutive wins and a chance to become the second team to force a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final after trailing 3-0.

“It’s still 3-2, I think,” Maurice said Wednesday as the Panthers prepared for Game 6 on Friday night. “I’ve got to check when I get back to the office.

“You guys are all in a bad (expletive) mood. How can I be the only person in a decent mood here today?”

The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs won four straight to overcome a 3-0 deficit, but history isn’t front of mind for Edmonton.

“It seems to be that we’ve been able to grind it out. We’ve been able to go through those types of experiences where we have to figure it out,” Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner said. “Again, we put ourselves in a little bit of a hole and we’re just going to keep on digging and climb our way out.”

No Canadian team has won the Cup since 1993.

Florida appeared to be on the verge of winning the Stanley Cup one year after being the NHL’s runner-up.

Maurice said he’s not buying storylines that Florida faces any pressure to close out the series in Alberta after dropping the last two games by a combined score of 13-4.

“I understand the feeling of 3-2 because most series are like that; 3-0 is more of an aberration,” Maurice said. “Pressure … I think we think about these things possibly differently, and I’m not sure that I would agree with the assessment that the pressure has shifted so heavily to us.”

Game 7, if necessary, is scheduled for June 24 in Sunrise, Fla.

–Field Level Media

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