fla feeling positive_tonight

Paul Maurice was in no mood Saturday morning to look back. Rather, the Florida Panthers coach would only look ahead to Monday, when the Panthers will host the Edmonton Oilers in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final at Amerant Bank Arena (8 p.m. ET; ABC, ESPN+, SN, TVAS, CBC).

How this series got here -- and the Oilers’ historic run up to it -- is a big topic, but Maurice has no interest in anything but the one more game that will decide the Cup champion.

"I'm not concerned about the past at all," Maurice said Saturday from Edmonton, hours after his team lost 5-1 in Game 6 to the Oilers on Friday.

“Our plan is set. It started last night after the game. Met this morning, did video, do the same tomorrow, get ready to play. I know it's 3-3. The concern of the previous three games certainly didn't affect Edmonton, and it won't affect us."

Florida had completely controlled the series with three straight victories to take a 3-0 lead, and a Cup celebration appeared very close. But since then, the Oilers have outscored the Panthers 18-5 in winning three consecutive elimination games and have become the third team in NHL history to force a Game 7 after being down 3-0 in the Final.

They will try to become only the second team in League history to win four straight games in the Final after losing the first three, joining the 1941-42 Toronto Maple Leafs.

NHL Tonight crew breakdown the Florida Panthers

As for Maurice and the Panthers, they say they are not going to talk about the historical ramifications of this series.

Even when his team was up 2-0 in the series, Maurice spoke about the Cup Final going the distance. Florida and Edmonton will now square off in the final possible game of the 2023-24 NHL season. Every team now sitting at home would gladly trade places.

"Embracing that is the key to it," Maurice said of the opportunity Game 7 presents. "Feeling positive about and feeling excited about it, and that's coming. Both teams get that opportunity to feel fired up.

"Game 7, Stanley Cup Final, it is set for every young man's dreams. Nobody ever dreamt about a Game 4 overtime winner. It's always Game 7."

After flying home Saturday, the Panthers will practice in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Sunday.

Florida is 2-1 in its history in Game 7; it defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 in the winner-take-all game in the Eastern Conference Final in 1996, lost 3-2 in double overtime to the New Jersey Devils in the 2012 conference quarterfinals and defeated the Boston Bruins 4-3 in overtime in the first round last season.

"The emotions change. The mood changes," Maurice said of a Game 7. “Both teams get to come to the rink with a certain amount of freedom, right? There's nothing left to be concerned about. It's all energy. It's everything you've got in a short period of time. So the context changes. Both teams will try to get to their identity as best they can."

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