EDMONTON -- The odds are against the Edmonton Oilers.

They trail the Florida Panthers 3-0 in the Stanley Cup Final entering Game 4 of the best-of-7 series at Rogers Place on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; ABC, ESPN+, CBC, SN, TVAS).

Of the 28 previous teams to fall behind 3-0 in the Stanley Cup Final, 20 got swept, five lost in five games, one lost in six and one lost in seven. Only one came back to win the series: the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, who did it against the Detroit Red Wings.

Of the 210 previous teams to fall behind 3-0 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, only four came back to win the series. That’s 1.9 percent.

So where do the Oilers find the fight for Game 4, let alone the rest of the series? Why do they believe they can mount a historic comeback?

From an individual standpoint, the motivation is simple.

“For a lot of players, this could be it,” forward Corey Perry said. “This could be their one chance. I’ve played with a lot of guys that have never had this chance. When you get it, you hold on to it, and you do everything you can to not let it go.”

Perry has a unique perspective. At 22 years old in his second NHL season, he won the Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007. He has been chasing that feeling ever since. He made the Cup Final with the Dallas Stars in 2020, the Montreal Canadiens in 2021 and the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2022, and he lost each time.

“How do you know that there’s going to be another time?” the 39-year-old said. “That’s the biggest thing you put in your mind. There might not be another time. This might be your only chance in your career. This is it.

“I bet you half these guys will never play -- more than half will never play -- in the Stanley Cup Final again. It’s just the reality of sports, and that’s where you put that fight in. That’s what you have to go home today and think about. Come back tomorrow and believe.”

NHL Now crew react to Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final

From a team standpoint, the motivation is simple too. For the Oilers, so is the belief.

They say the Stanley Cup is the hardest trophy to win because of the physical, mental and emotional toll it takes over 82 regular season games and four playoff rounds. Well, it’s the hardest trophy to lose for the same reason. No one wants to go through all that for naught.

The Oilers have invested and overcome so much. They started the regular season 2-9-1, then went 47-18-5 the rest of the way, the best record in the NHL over that period. They had an eight-game winning streak and a 16-game winning streak.

In the Western Conference Second Round against the Vancouver Canucks, they fell behind 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2, but won the series in seven games. In the Western Conference Final against the Dallas Stars, they fell behind 2-1, and they won the series in six games.

“We have a strong belief in our group,” forward Zach Hyman said. “People have counted us out the entire year, and the odds say that we won’t win, right? That’s what all the statistics and the odds say. But the odds said that we weren’t going to make the playoffs at Thanksgiving, and multiple times in these playoffs we were down. That means we play our best when our backs are against the wall and face elimination.”

Hyman said the series doesn’t feel like it’s 3-0. The Oilers played well in Game 1 and Game 3. Coach Kris Knoblauch said they have a better scoring chance differential in this series than they did in each of the first three rounds. He said they just haven’t put the puck in the net.

“If there’s any team that can do this, it’s this team,” Hyman said. “I strongly believe that. There’s something about this team. We don’t give up.”

Theoretically, teams should come back from 3-0 deficits at least a little more often in the NHL salary cap era, thanks to parity. The Philadelphia Flyers did it in 2010 against the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Second Round. The Los Angeles Kings did it in 2014 against the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference First Round.

Win Game 4, and the Oilers at least avoid becoming the first team to get swept in the Cup Final since the 1998 Washington Capitals, who fell to the Red Wings. Win Game 5, and they bring the series back to Edmonton, where things could get interesting. Win Game 6, and they force Game 7, and you know what can happen in Game 7.


“I mean, it’s four games,” defenseman Mattias Ekholm said. “That’s all it is. We’ve had stretches of eight games and 16 games throughout the regular season. We won three straight against Dallas, so we can do it. It’s a matter of just finding that first win, and go from there.”

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