EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — The Stanley Cup will be back in the stadium on Friday night when the Florida Panthers get their third chance to win the first championship in franchise history in Game 6 against the Edmonton Oilers.

The Panthers led the series 3-0 before losing two games in a row.

“This is a new experience that you can't necessarily prepare for,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said Thursday in Fort Lauderdale before heading back to Alberta. “Now we're kind of two games under our belt… so we're learning. We're learning how to do it. We're learning how to feel it.”

To close out the series and finally move to the top of the NHL, Florida will have to deal with Connor McDavid, who will likely be named playoff MVP with ease, and a sold-out crowd of over 18,000 fans hoping to see their team force a Game 7 on Monday night in South Florida. Oilers fever is alive and well in the city with nearly a million people trying to get their team back across North America.

“It was incredible to witness,” said veteran winger Corey Perry, who is in the finals for the fourth time in five seasons. “Everyone notices it. You can hear them honking when we're in the locker room. You can hear everything. It's very special, very great to be here and go through this.”

Their return to Edmonton is largely thanks to McDavid, Edmonton's captain, who scored four points in both Games 4 and 5. He is the first player in league history to score four points in two consecutive games in the finals, and his 42 points are just five shy of Wayne Gretzky's record set in 1985.

“Connor does Connor things,” said linemate Zach Hyman. “That's what makes him special. He's able to step up his game at the crucial moment – the main reason we've come this far. We wouldn't be here without him. He's still the boss.”

Matthew Tkachuk was the second-best player on the ice in Game 5 behind McDavid, who was the third-best player on the ice by a wide margin. Tkachuk scored a goal and assisted on another, sparking a comeback attempt that narrowly failed despite his diving save in the final minute when he kept the puck out of the empty net.

“He's one of the best players in the world,” said teammate Ryan Lomberg. “He's one of our key leaders. When guys like that lead by example, everyone else follows suit.”


AP NHL Playoffs: and

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