edm backs against wall_tonight

SUNRISE, Fla. -- It is not enough for the Edmonton Oilers to have forced Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Florida Panthers.

They want to finish the job.

Edmonton has been playing from the edge of a cliff since losing the first three games of the best-of-7 series and is looking to complete a historic comeback in Game 7 at Amerant Bank Arena on Monday (8 p.m. ET; ABC, ESPN+, SN, TVAS, CBC).

“We worked hard to put ourselves in this position,” Oilers captain Connor McDavid said Sunday. “It’s a great opportunity for our group and I’m looking forward to it.”

The Oilers managed to fend off elimination three times with three consecutive wins and are now in a position to become only the second team to battle back from a 3-0 series deficit in the Final to win the Stanley Cup.

Of the 28 teams who have previously been in a 3-0 hole in the Final, only the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1942 were able to rattle off four straight wins against the Detroit Red Wings and lift the Cup. Edmonton has an opportunity to be the second.

“I’m obviously excited and proud the way that we gave ourselves a chance,” Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl said. “It’s just one game now.”

Just over a week ago, the Oilers looked dead and buried after falling behind 3-0 to the Panthers. Florida was teeing up for a major celebration, flying friends and family members into Edmonton for Game 4, but the champagne remained on ice.

The Oilers stayed alive with a dominant performance in Game 4, winning 8-1 at home, and followed it up with a 5-3 win in Florida in Game 5. A 5-1 win in Game 6 in Edmonton on Friday has the Oilers back in Florida to play the last game of the NHL season.

“You grow up as a kid playing on the street the Stanley Cup Final Game 7,” Oilers forward Corey Perry said. “Now it’s reality. I don’t think our mindset changes, it can’t because we’ve done some good things, but we haven’t done anything great yet and that’s what we’re looking for.”

NHL Now on the biggest storylines from Game 7

The Oilers are only the third team in history to rally from 3-0 down to force Game 7 in the Final. The 1942 Maple Leafs completed the comeback against the Detroit Red Wings and in 1945 the script was flipped, but Detroit fell short against Toronto.

Edmonton is the 10th team in playoff history to force Game 7 after losing the first three games of a best-of-7 series.

Only four teams managed to complete the comeback; the 1942 Maple Leafs in the Stanley Cup Final, the New York Islanders in the 1975 quarterfinal against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinal against the Boston Bruins and the Los Angeles Kings in the 2014 Western Conference First Round against the San Jose Sharks.

“It’s been a long year and players have had their backs against the wall since November, a couple of playoff series and definitely the last three or four games here,” Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch said. “Our goal here is to win our last game of the season. I think there’s 32 teams in the NHL that want the last game to be a victory. If you ask any team after it’s done, they’re disappointed if they don’t win that last game. We want to win the last game.”

Despite the pressure of trying to complete the comeback, the Oilers are approaching Game 7 as if it were another game. They were not expected to be playing still after falling behind and facing what many considered an insurmountable deficit, and were a loose group at their final practice of the season Sunday.

“We have the same attitude, we’re really enjoying ourselves here,” Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner said. “It’s a tied series now, but that doesn’t change much, we still have a hockey game to play.”

Perry said the Oilers are still playing from the edge despite having an opportunity to win it all. Edmonton is looking to maintain its desperation level in Game 7.

“Our backs are still against the wall and that’s our mindset,” Perry said. “We’re still against the wall and we can’t change that. It’s the mindset we had in Game 4, 5, 6, and it has to be that mindset going into Game 7. We can’t change what we’ve done to get to this point and we just have to continue to do it.”

Perry won the Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007, then lost in the Final with the Dallas Stars in 2020, Montreal Canadiens in 2021 and Tampa Bay Lightning in 2022. He has played Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs 10 times in his career and is 5-5 in those games. This will be his first Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final.

“Emotions and just doing the little things and the bigger things happen,” Perry said when asked the difference between winning and losing in Game 7. “You can say all the cliches you want, but in those games everything is magnified so much more than in Game 4, 5 or 6, whatever it is. It’s the little things and the bigger things happen after that.”

Edmonton has the momentum going into Game 7 with three straight wins, but once the puck drops Monday none of that matters, according to forward Adam Henrique.

“I think the mindset is to continue to do what we’ve been doing,” he said. “We just have to go out and play, execute where we need to execute, get to our game, just those simple reminders. I think the guys have done a good job understanding where we’re at and understanding what we have to do, but not looking too far ahead.

“Certainly, this is where we wanted to get back to and needed to get back to, to have an opportunity and it’s been a lot of fun along the way.”

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