scfgm6_fla mistakes

EDMONTON – Mistakes continue to haunt the Florida Panthers.

Three notable ones in Game 6 led directly to goals in a 5-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place on Friday, a loss that forces a Game 7 at Amerant Bank Arena on Monday (8 p.m. ET; ABC, ESPN+, SN, TVAS, CBC) and gives the Oilers the opportunity to make history as the first team since the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs to pull off a reverse sweep in the Stanley Cup Final.

“We just have to be sharp every moment on the ice, like every second,” said Florida forward Eetu Luostarinen. "When you are on the ice, you have to be sharp, mentally, physically, you can’t let go for even a second because they are going to make you pay."

That’s what happened in Game 6. The Panthers faltered and they paid for it.

The Oilers got the first goal for the third straight game when forward Warren Foegele scored at the 7:27 mark of the first period, putting home a saucer pass from Leon Draisaitl on a 2-on-1 breakaway.

On the play, Florida did not get the puck in deep from the neutral zone and defenseman Brett Kulak started the transition the other way, catching Florida defensemen Aaron Ekblad and Gustav Forsling flat-footed. Ekblad lost Foegele on the backcheck.

“When they get the first goal, obviously, you’re chasing it a little bit,” said Florida forward Carter Verhaeghe.

And once the Panthers committed to chasing the game, they made more mistakes.

“They were good in the first period, they were quick and they were on us,” Florida coach Paul Maurice said. “We didn’t move the puck well enough to pull that off.”

Adam Henrique scored 46 seconds into the second period, on another 2-on-1. 

Florida got caught pinching in the attacking zone and Edmonton defenseman Mattias Ekholm made them pay with a stretch pass to forward Mattias Janmark, who outwaited defenseman Dmitry Kulikov before passing to Henrique for an easy finish.

“Offensively, they are doing a good job, stretching the game open a bit,” Luostarinen said. “Defensively, I guess they are blocking a lot of shots and denying the entry.”

That was the case on Edmonton's third goal at 18:20 of the second period. Florida had already had an Aleksander Barkov goal nullified by an offside review 10 seconds after Henrique scored. They were applying good pressure in the attacking zone when disaster befell them.  

Forsling, who was a minus-3 on Friday and is minus-5 in his past three games, made an ill-advised shot from the point that was easily blocked by Edmonton forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and the puck exited the zone. Zach Hyman won the race to it for a breakaway and beat Bobrovsky with a backhand shot.

“Obviously, we know we need to play better,” said Barkov, who scored Florida’s only goal in the third period. “So, we have good moments in the games and we’ve got to take those to the next game and, obviously, make the bad moments better.”

Verhaeghe said that Florida needs to be better mentally and physically in a winner-take-all Game 7 than it has been in any of the past three.

“They came out hungrier than us,” he said. “They wanted it and that was kind of it. We didn’t really get to our forecheck off the start and they took it to us, so I think it’s for us to get better and I think we need some better starts.”

Barkov said the Panthers have two days to get back to the low-mistake style they exhibited in the first three games. But it will have to be even better now that the Oilers are on their game.

“Well, they’re playing really well,” Barkov said. “They play really well defensively. They’re fast. They’re generating a lot of offense. 

“So, obviously, like I said, we need to be better. There are things in the games that we’ve done really well and there are things that we need to get better at.”

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