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EDMONTON – There is only one team whose season can end tonight.

It's not the Florida Panthers

Although their lead in the Stanley Cup Final has shrunk from 3-0 to 3-2, the Panthers are ready to make another attempt to eliminate the Edmonton Oilers in Game 6 at Rogers Place on Friday.

“I think pressure is a privilege,” Panthers forward Vladimir Tarasenko said. “It means you're doing something important. … You have to be able to handle it by sticking as close together as possible. Whatever has happened has happened before. We're here to play our best game.”

To keep Lord Stanley under control, a better start will be crucial for the Panthers in Game 6.

In their losses in Games 4 and 5, the Panthers fell behind 1-0 to the Oilers very early on after conceding a shorthanded goal within the first six minutes of the first period.

Having not taken a game lead since taking a 3-0 series lead, the Panthers know they have to put pressure on the Oilers, who have not yet had to think about their potential elimination.

The series is 4-1 for the team that scores first.

“It's going to be loud and it's going to be a lot of fun, a lot of energy,” Panthers defenseman Gustav Forsling said. “We want to get off to a good start. … We're up 3-2, but we want to take it one game at a time. It starts with the first shift out there, just getting off to a good start.”

Aside from Game 4, the Panthers were very pleased with their performance in Game 5.

Despite losing by a narrow margin of 5-3, the Panthers dominated 5-on-5 action against the Oilers for much of the game, doing most of their damage when the game was uneven, scoring two power play goals, one short-handed goal and one empty-net goal.

The Panthers led the Oilers in expected goals at 5-on-5 in all three periods and finished with a significant lead in shots on goal (25-14), shot attempts (54-21), scoring chances (24-10), high-danger shot attempts (9-3), and most importantly, goals scored (3-1).

These are the Panthers we are used to seeing.

“I think overall we played really well,” Forsling said. “We just didn't get the results we wanted and took a few too many penalties.”

The Panthers will make a change to their lineup as Nick Cousins ​​will return to action for the first time since Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Cousins ​​will take Kyle Okposo's spot on the fourth line and line up alongside Kevin Stenlund and Ryan Lomberg.

After watching from the sidelines for a while, Cousins ​​is expected to bounce back with plenty of momentum when he returns.

“You can just tell that the guys who come in and out of the lineup are having a tough time,” Panthers head coach Paul Maurice said of the rotation of players. “But in their off time, when the game is less intense, they come back and are fully engaged.”

The Oilers will not announce any lineup changes until warmups.

Still, as always, all eyes will be on Connor McDavid, no matter what happens.

After scoring just three points in the first three games of the series, the three-time Hart Trophy winner scored four points in each of Edmonton's final two games.

To eliminate the Oilers, the Panthers know they have to keep No. 97 in check.

“Every situation is always different out there,” said Panthers defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. “We just try to learn from it and see what we can do differently and better.”

Having already had two chances to end the series, the Panthers also go into Game 6 with perhaps a little more clarity and focus than they did in Games 4 and 5.

If you strip away all the plot lines, it's just a hockey game to them.

“The conversation before the puck is thrown in is all about hockey,” Maurice said.

PANTHERS PLAYOFF LEADERS

Goals: Verhaeghe (10)

Templates: Tkachuk (16)

Points: Tkachuk (22)

Accesses: Bennett (82)

Blocks: Ekblad (45)

OILERS PLAYOFF LEADER

Goals: Hyman (15)

Templates: McDavid (34)

Points: McDavid (42)

Accesses: Holloway (77)

Blocks: Nurse (60)

THEY SAID IT

“I find [at] “At the beginning of the series, that’s definitely a place we’d like to be.” – Matthew Tkachuk

“When you have nothing to lose, it's a feeling of freedom, isn't it? But there's also a danger, isn't there? There's a great line in one of those cheesy movies: The most dangerous man in the world is the one who has nothing to lose. When you have something to protect, sometimes you feel the pressure to protect it.” – Paul Maurice

“I mean, we're here to win a trophy. Whether we do it in five, six or seven games doesn't matter. We're here to win a game, just focus on that.” – Kevin Stenlund

“It's just an incredible feeling to get this chance and to be in this place. Everyone is excited. This is what we work for our whole lives, to be in this position.” – Oliver Ekman-Larsson

FIVE CATS STATS

– Aleksander Barkov leads all NHL skaters this postseason with 30 takeaways.

– Between the regular season and the playoffs, the Panthers are 2-1 at Rogers Place.

– Matthew Tkachuk has played eight multi-point games this postseason.

– Sam Bennett has scored at least one point in seven of his last eight games.

– Evan Rodrigues leads the Panthers with four goals in the Stanley Cup Final.

EXPECTED LINEUP (SUBJECT TO CHANGE)

Forward

Carter Verhaeghe – Aleksander Barkov – Sam Reinhart

Evan Rodrigues – Sam Bennett – Matthew Tkachuk

Eetu Luostarinen – Anton Lundell – Vladimir Tarasenko

Ryan Lomberg – Kevin Stenlund – Nick Cousins

defender

Gustav Forsling – Aaron Ekblad

Niko Mikkola – Brandon Montour

Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Dmitry Kulikov

goalkeeper

Sergei Bobrovsky

Anthony Stolarz

RECENT TRANSACTIONS:

– 6 May: F Patrick Giles recalled from Charlotte (AHL)

How to watch/listen

When: Friday, June 21, 8 p.m. ET

Where: Rogers Place – Edmonton, AB

TV & Streaming: ABC, ESPN+

Radio: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 92.1 WZZR (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); 101.7 WCZR (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM Channel 219 / App & Streaming 932; Panthers app

Watch Party: American Bank Arena

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