edmfla historic gm7_tonight

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Welcome to the unimaginable.

Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final has been played 17 times since 1942, most recently in 2019 and before that 2011, 2009, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2001 and 10 times before the turn of the century.

But not since 1945 has Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final been necessary after a team took a 3-0 lead in the series.

Not until now that is, or, rather, Monday, when the Panthers and Edmonton Oilers play Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, play for everything from the Stanley Cup to history to legacies at Amerant Bank Arena (8 p.m. ET; ABC, ESPN+, SN, TVAS, CBC).

"That's actually what makes this whole thing awesome is the context of it," Panthers coach Paul Maurice said.

An Oilers win and they will be the first team since the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs to win the Stanley Cup after falling behind 3-0 in the Stanley Cup Final. They are already the first team since the 1945 Detroit Red Wings to force a Game 7 after falling behind 3-0 in the Cup Final.

An Oilers win and they will forever be remembered as the team that did what seemed impossible.

They will differentiate themselves from the dynastic Oilers that won the Stanley Cup five times from 1984-90.

They will differentiate themselves from every Stanley Cup winner in the NHL's modern era, which began in 1943-44, when the center red line was introduced.

"Obviously, it's not your ordinary game, everybody understands that," Oilers captain Connor McDavid said. "But you've got to make it as ordinary as possible in your head. I think part of that is just sticking to your routine. Our room has done a great job of being at our best in these big moments, and I would expect no different tomorrow."

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A Panthers win and they will render Edmonton's comeback for naught and win the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history.

A Panthers win and they will avoid being on the wrong side of history.

They are 8-4 on home ice in the Stanley Cup Playoffs; the Oilers are 7-5 on the road, including a 3-2 win in Game 7 against the Vancouver Canucks in the second round.

"It's even right now," Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk said. "It doesn't matter what has happened to get to this point. You forget everything that's happened throughout this whole season really. The whole season comes down to one game at home. How could you not be so jacked up for this? This is an absolutely an incredible, incredible opportunity. So, yes, you want to recognize or remember some of the good things that helped you beat these guys earlier in the series, but I don't know, I'm trying to forget all of it. Just go in there and win this one game."

This one game is the rare game that could be career-defining, even legacy-defining one way or the other.

This is the game that 10 days ago the Oilers talked about getting to, talked about believing in what seemed like the impossible, but still seemed so absurd to even imagine.

"We're all human and we're aware of the situation and what we've accomplished so far, but I think if you go past that it just at the end of the day comes down to one game," Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl said. "We have to focus on winning one hockey game on the road, play our best and everything else, all the stories, will take care of itself after."

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The Panthers won Games 1-3 by a combined 11-4 score, had a 3-0 lead, three chances until now to win the Stanley Cup for the first time in their history.

The Oilers spoiled it each time, winning Games 4-6 by a combined 18-5, including 5-1 in Game 6 at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Friday, the reason why this series is still going, why it shifted back to South Florida, why we're still talking about history.

"You have to stay even keeled," McDavid said. "You can't ride the wave or the rollercoaster. We really haven't done anything yet. We've won three big games to get ourselves back in the series and it comes down to one game here and we'll be ready. It's a great opportunity."

The Oilers got here with dominant performances individually and as a group.

Stuart Skinner has a 1.67 goals-against average and .942 save percentage in the past three games after posting a 3.13 GAA and .868 save percentage in the first three games.

McDavid became the first player in NHL history with consecutive four-point games in the Stanley Cup Final in Games 4 and 5. He has 11 points in the Final, two shy of the NHL record (Wayne Gretzky had 13 in 1988, five games).

The Oilers have scored two short-handed goals and killed all 10 of Florida's power plays in the past three games. The Panthers are 1-for-19 on the power play in the series.

Edmonton has had 11 goal-scorers and 16 skaters with at least one point in the past three games.

"Every game we go into, we know we have the best player in the world on our side," Draisaitl said speaking about McDavid, "but this league is really, really hard to just go through one player or two or three players. You need a whole team, and I think we've shown that."

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The Panthers were on the verge of a sweep after three games because of some dominant performances too.

Sergei Bobrovsky had a 1.33 GAA and .953 save percentage through three games, including a 32-save shutout in Game 1. He allowed four goals on 86 shots.

Evan Rodrigues had three goals and four points. Aleksander Barkov had three assists and four points. Sam Bennett and Sam Reinhart each had three points. The Panthers' 11 goals came from nine players. Their penalty kill was 10-for-10.

But all of that has changed with the narrative in the series since the start of Game 4, which wound up being an 8-1 Edmonton win.

Bobrovsky has a 5.06 GAA and .793 save percentage and the Panthers have five goals, nobody with more than one, all in the past three games. Edmonton has had a 2-0 lead in each game, including 3-0 in the past two.

"Has the opportunity to win it all the last couple of games been there? Yeah, but at the end of the day they played better than us in three games and we played better than them probably in three games," Tkachuk said. "It really doesn't come down to that huge, big picture. All that we're thinking about coming to the rink tomorrow is trying to win that first shift, win the first period, come out and play as fast and physical as we possibly can start the game because we know that's what makes us successful. I'd say we're more excited for that part, to come out and play in front of our home fans, who have been so incredibly crucial for. We know that they've been waiting for this game.

"I mean, this is probably the biggest NHL game in however many years, and so our fans are jacked up for it. We can't wait."

Imagine that.