FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers already have missed on two swings at knocking out the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Final.

Now, they must go back to Edmonton for Game 6 at Rogers Place on Friday (8 p.m.; ABC, ESPN+, SN, TVAS, CBC).

Despite having their once-commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-7 series reduced to 3-2, the Panthers remain just one victory away from winning the Stanley Cup for the first time and completing the mission they’ve been on since losing to the Vegas Golden Knights in five games in the Cup Final last season. That had coach Paul Maurice still feeling pretty good Wednesday.

“It’s still 3-2, I think,” Maurice said. “I’ve got to check when I get back to the office. … You guys are all in a bad [expletive] mood. How can I be the only person in a decent mood here today?”

Had the Panthers gotten to their 3-2 series lead differently, the outside perspective probably would match Maurice’s. They led 3-2 in their past two series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs too, against the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Second Round and the New York Rangers in the conference final, and won each in six games.

But after Florida won the first three games of the Cup Final, Edmonton suddenly looks a lot closer in the rearview mirror following an 8-1 win in Game 4 on Saturday and a 5-3 victory in Game 5 on Tuesday. The Oilers are just the fourth team to force a Game 6 after falling behind 3-0 in a best-of-7 Cup Final and are trying to join the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs as the only teams to overcome such a deficit to win the Stanley Cup.

Conversely, Florida is trying to avoid the ignominy of becoming the second team to lose in the Cup Final after winning the first three games, and first since the Detroit Red Wings in 1942. Maurice insisted that doesn’t mean all the pressure is on the Panthers’ shoulders now, though.

“I understand the feeling of 3-2 because most series are like that; 3-0 is more of an aberration,” Maurice said. “Pressure, I think we think about these things possibly differently, and I’m not sure that I would agree with the assessment that the pressure has shifted so heavily to us.

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“… We’ve had something to possibly to protect a 3-0, protect the opportunity. We’ve earned this. Now we’ve got to protect it, and they would’ve had nothing to protect in Game 4. So there’s a little bit of a leveling out of what you feel like you have to protect.”

One more loss would mean playing a winner-take-all Game 7 at home Monday. But with Florida having the day off Wednesday to rest and reset before practicing Thursday and traveling back to Edmonton, Maurice clearly was trying to focus on the positives.

And in contrast to the lopsided loss in Game 4, there were some in Game 5 for the Panthers.

Forward Matthew Tkachuk came to life to lead their comeback attempt from second-period deficits of 3-0 and 4-1 with a goal (ending a nine-game drought) and an assist after he had one assist in the first four games of the series. Forward Evan Rodrigues also had a goal and an assist and leads Florida with six points (four goals, two assists) in the series.

The Panthers outshot the Oilers 32-24, including 26-14 in the final two periods, and had a 76-39 advantage in shot attempts, including 57-24 in the final two periods. The Panthers controlled play at 5-on-5, outshooting the Oilers 25-14, and had a 52-23 advantage in 5-on-5 shot attempts.

“The only thing consistent in pro sports is the losing coach says we had our chances,” Maurice said. “That’s not what this is. Our 5-on-5 game [Tuesday] was as good last night as it’s been all series. That will get you out of bed and get you ready for Game 6.”

But there are also some things that happened in the past two games that would give any coach concern. They include Oilers center Connor McDavid having back-to-back four-point games -- one goal and three assists in Game 4 and two goals and two assists in Game 5 -- after he had a relatively quiet three assists in the first three games.

“I don’t know that his expected goals have increased in the last two; they’ve just gone for him,” Maurice said. “But you would expect that to happen. If he gets X number of chances, there’s going to be a point-whatever, six or seven percentage that’s going in. He would have a higher percentage than most players, very possibly any player. We’ll have to limit that X, but we also understand that some are going in.”

Florida has been outscored 13-4 in the past two games after outscoring Edmonton 11-4 in the first three. After allowing seven goals on rush plays in Game 3, including six of those at even strength, the Panthers cleaned up that part of their defense, allowing no even-strength goals on rush plays in Game 4.

But Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has come back to earth in the past two games, allowing nine goals on 39 shots for a 6.54 goals-against average and .769 save percentage after stopping 82 of 86 shots for a 1.33 GAA, .953 save percentage and one shutout in winning the first three games.

Special teams also have been a problem; the Panthers have allowed two short-handed goals and three power-play goals in the past two games. Florida is 1-for-16 with two short-handed goals against on the power play during the Cup Final. The short-handed goals put the Panthers in a 1-0 hole early in each game.

“Small steps,” Maurice said. “We’ll start with not giving up short-handed breakaways and then we’ll move on.”

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