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Stanley Cup Final: Edmonton Oilers come back from the brink and prepare for a historic Game 7

Stanley Cup Final: Edmonton Oilers come back from the brink and prepare for a historic Game 7

Sergey Belsky/USA Today Sports/Reuters

Edmonton Oilers left winger Zach Hyman (18) celebrates his goal with his teammates during the second period of Game 6 of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final.



CNN

When history is on the line, a match becomes more than just the sum of minutes played, more than a sporting event, it becomes a story. In the words of Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov, Stanley Cup Final It became “everyone’s dream.”

The Edmonton Oilers have come back from the brink, ignited the imagination and created a unique chapter in NHL history. three times They avoided potential elimination from the tournament, and here they are, from 0-3 down in the best-of-seven series to 3-3 and with the momentum going into Game 7 on Monday in a winner-takes-all game. The winner makes history.

Barkov told reporters: “The seventh game is everyone’s dream, and that is why we have to be ready for the seventh game.”

A 5-1 win over the Panthers on Friday turned the end of this season into an unlikely story with everything on the line for both teams.

“It’s crazy,” Oilers forward Zach Hyman said after the game, while teammate Leon Draisaitl called it “a great story so far.”

An Oilers victory would not only end Canada’s decades-long Stanley Cup drought, but would make Edmonton the second team – the first being the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1942 – to win the championship from 0-3 down, completing one of the greatest comebacks in history. Sports field.

Although they had three losses on the trot, thus missing out on three chances to clinch the series, the Panthers were still one victory away from their first championship in franchise history. They have one last chance.

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Sergey Belsky/USA Today Sports/Reuters

The home team in Game 7 has a 12-5 record in the Stanley Cup Final.

“You get beaten, you feel it, it hurts,” Panthers coach Paul Morris told reporters after Friday’s loss at Rogers Place.

“You’re licking your wounds and we’ll start rebuilding this tomorrow. But who you are tonight means nothing to who you’ll be two days from now.

Perhaps most importantly, the Panthers’ shot at history comes on home ice. Home-field advantage has historically helped, as the home team has a 12-5 record going into Game 7 of the final.

“We have one game left,” Panthers linebacker Dmitry Kulikov said. “We were prepared from the beginning to play a series of seven matches, and nothing has changed now. We have qualified three times, and they have played three good matches. Now it is up to us to win at home.”

However, Florida has struggled offensively in the last three games, scoring just five goals, a problem that was more evident on Friday.

The turning point came early in Game 6, when Barkov scored on a rebound almost immediately after trailing 2-0, but Edmonton successfully challenged the offside and had the goal disallowed. Officials ruled that Sam Reinhard had raced the ball into the attacking zone and was offside before the goal.

“It changed the momentum of the game,” Hyman said of the call, per the NHL.

Barkov said his team had plenty of chances after that call, and forward Carter Verhaeghe said the Oilers “came out hungrier than us.”

“They wanted it and that was kind of it,” he said in the NHL. “We couldn’t really hit our target from the start and they took it to us, so I think we have to get better and I think we need some better starts,” he added.

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While the momentum is on the Oilers’ side, so is the crux of this story.

Cody McLachlan/Getty Images

Edmonton has produced comebacks all season.

Edmonton was bottom of the NHL standings at one point after starting the season 2-9-1. They were down and almost made it to the final. Their improbable season almost has improbable endings.

Hyman, who scored the most goals in a postseason with 16 since Joe Sakic scored 18 in the 1996 Stanley Cup playoffs, summed up the Oilers’ situation well.

“We have faith,” he said afterward, according to the NHL. “I think that’s the word I want to use.”

“Every game you win you become stronger, and the external belief from others, they start to believe too. Not many people were interested in the final when the score was 0-3, but now I’m sure a lot of people will follow it.

“That’s why sports are amazing, because the unthinkable can happen. We’re in a place where we thought it could happen, when no one thought it could happen. Now we have a chance. That’s all you can ask for.”