EDMONTON, AB – The Stanley Cup Final has arrived in Oil Country, and it will take everyone to get this thing back to even.

For the Oilers players and coaches, they couldn't be more pumped to have their local support behind them for their opportunity over the next two games to respond on home ice.

"We're all so excited for the moment tomorrow, and this city gives their heart and soul to this team and we're excited to play in front of them," Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said.

With a few missing players and a handful of lineup changes, the Oilers practiced at Rogers Place on Wednesday for the first time at home in the Stanley Cup Final as they look to even things up against the Panthers in Game 3 on Thursday.

The Oilers trail 2-0 in the series and will need all the extra help they can get from the raucous environment inside Rogers Place to make the most of their home environment and claim both games on home ice in the same way that the Panthers did in Games 1 & 2, along with the hope that a few questionable players because to injury will be able to recover in time for puck drop on the first Stanley Cup Final game in Edmonton since June 17, 2006 – 18 years ago.

"It's exciting to play in the Stanley Cup Final and play in front of your home fans – especially fans as passionate as the ones we have here," Connor McDavid said. "I know they're excited. We'll be excited as well. We could use our energy, for sure."

The Oilers practiced on home ice at Rogers Place on Wednesday

Defenceman Darnell Nurse and forward Evander Kane didn’t participate during the full-team skate on Wednesday, though Kane was on the ice at the start of the practice for the Oilers before having a lengthy conversation with Head Coach Kris Knoblauch and then exiting the ice surface – likely for maintenance reasons.

Kane hasn’t taken part in practice for much of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs due to injury concerns dating back to the regular season when the 32-year-old said he was dealing with a self-described sports hernia injury.

During Monday’s 4-1 defeat to Florida in Game 2, Kane played a total of 10:33 and posted a -3 rating, while failing to register either a shot or a hit in the loss.

On Wednesday, Head Coach Kris Knoblauch wouldn’t confirm the status of the forward for Game 3, instead leaving the decision to be made closer to puck drop on Game 3 with one of either Ryan McLeod or Warren Foegele expected to come out of the lineup if Kane can go on Thursday night.

“We haven't decided yet,” Knoblauch said of Kane's status.

McLeod was in Kane’s place next to Leon Draisaitl and Dylan Holloway inside the top six during Wednesday’s practice, while Foegele was next to the rotating centre pair of Derek Ryan and Sam Carrick and forward Corey Perry, who's expected to return to the lineup for the Oilers on Thursday in Game 3 against the Panthers.

Tony & Bob discuss McLeod's elevation & adjustments required

The Oilers bench boss was a lot more confident in his remarks relating to Nurse, who was seen battling in Game 2 trying to get back on the ice after taking an innocuous hit from Panthers forward Evan Rodrigues in the first period.

Nurse recorded just 4:20 of ice time and seven total shifts on Monday after making multiple trips to the dressing room and being limited to only one 18-second shift in the second period before taking two longer shifts in the final frame.

In addition to Perry’s likely inclusion in the lineup for Game 3, Knoblauch says they haven’t considered the potential of losing Nurse too heavily after seeing the way he responded to his injury issue during the third period of the 4-1 defeat to Florida in Game 2.

“Yeah, Corey's quite likely to come back in the lineup. For Darnell, we haven't considered much of not having him for the next game,” Knoblauch said.

“I think with the medical treatment that he got, he was able to play a little bit at the end of the game. With the time off and everything that we needed to do, I have no issues.

“He'll be ready to play.”

Connor addresses the media in Edmonton on Wednesday

To the captain of the Oilers, seeing his teammate battle through the issue and return to the ice in the third period was a major showing of his resiliency and a reminder for the whole group as to why they make the sacrifices they do in the Stanley Cup Finals.

"We definitely knew he was going through whatever he was going through there," McDavid said. "But looking back, obviously he wants to be out there. Everybody wants to be out there. It doesn't matter who you are. It's special to play this time of year and everybody wants to be a part of that. He's as tough as they come and wants to be out there."

Above all, Nurse is a physical and emotional leader for this team, and his presence becomes even more valuable at this time of the season.

"Just his presence in the room," Mattias Ekholm said. "He's a great leader for us, and obviously he's a great player. You see it sometimes with defencemen. They just kind of play every game, but it's actually when they're not on skates where you kind of really notice their presence isn't there anymore. And you're like, in skate today, he wasn't out there, so obviously we missed him. He's been. He's a huge part of this team, and hopefully he'll be good to go tomorrow.