Florida Panthers v Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers return to Oil Country for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Florida Panthers on Thursday night at Rogers Place.

You can watch the game on Sportsnet & Hockey Night in Canada at 6:00 p.m. MT or listen live on the Oilers Radio Network, including 630 CHED.

Subscribe to Oilers+ to unlock the Pre-Game Show that will begin 30 minutes before puck-drop, along with more exclusive live and behind-the-scenes content.

Game previews during the 2024 Oilers playoffs are presented by Pizza 73 🍕

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Tony & Bob discuss McLeod's elevation & adjustments required

PREVIEW: Oilers vs. Panthers (Game 3)

EDMONTON, AB – Down, but far from out.

Trailing 2-0 to the Florida Panthers in the Stanley Cup Final, the Edmonton Oilers can venture forward into Game 3 of the series on Thursday night at Rogers Place with conviction knowing they’ve been in this type of position before during the 2024 playoffs – more than once – and risen to the occasion.

“There's definitely a certain confidence knowing that we've been in difficult situations and fought our way back,” captain Connor McDavid said after Wednesday’s practice. “I think we've talked a lot about that, but that's because we’ve found ourselves in difficult positions throughout the year and the playoffs, so this certainly would be one of those situations.”

The Oilers battled back from 2-1 and 3-2 series deficits against the Canucks in the Second Round and then again during the Western Conference Final, winning three straight against the Stars and outscoring them 10-4 to move on and win the series in six games after losing Games 2 & 3.

After dropping Games 1 & 2 of the Stanley Cup Final to the Panthers by 3-0 and 4-1 scores, the Oilers will have to pull from within to get themselves back to an even series with the Panthers. But it’s a challenge that the Oilers captain and his teammates are excited to face together one final time this season so they can lift the biggest prize of them all.

“I said this after Game 2,” McDavid added. “But I look forward to the opportunity for our group to come together one last time to dig our way out.”

The Oilers practiced on home ice at Rogers Place on Wednesday

Help for the Oilers against the Panthers on Thursday night will be coming from their home crowd as the Stanley Cup Final shifts to Oil Country for the first time in the series and the first time in almost 18 years, dating back to Game 6 of the 2006 Final against Carolina.

The Oilers aren’t looking past their opportunity of taking full advantage of home ice on Thursday night and doing exactly what Florida did to them in Games 1 & 2, knowing they’re about to step into a playoff environment unlike anything experienced before inside Oil Country, Rogers Place and ICE District.

“I think if you're the home team, your job is to go win two games and they did that,” Zach Hyman said. “So now we're the home team, and we get the next two at home, which is fantastic, and we’ve just got to protect home ice. It's going to be an incredible atmosphere, so we're excited for the opportunity to win one game at home.”

It will be no easy feat for the Oilers on Thursday night judging how difficult the Panthers proved to be in the first two games. Sergei Bobrovsky stole Game 1 with a 32-save shutout before they were collectively the better team during their 4-1 victory in Game 2, showing their size and speed to break up pucks on the forecheck while capitalizing on their chances and limiting the Oilers to seven shots in the first two periods.

After going quiet offensively with only one goal scored in the first two games of the series, along with their now 0-for-7 power play, the onus will be on the Oilers to change up their look and generate chances in front of their home fans.

Connor addresses the media in Edmonton on Wednesday

"I think they're playing really well," McDavid said. "They're playing aggressively and in your face. With that being said, there are mistakes. There are chances. I feel like a team as aggressive as they are, they do a great job of limiting your chances and then there's one mistake and you can find yourself in a grade A really fast. You have to be ready for that, and you have to be prepared.

"It goes from not much going on to suddenly, there's a good chance. And as I said, you have to be ready for that. You've got to bury it. Bobrovsky is also playing well. It's about being ready for your opportunity and making the most of it."

Panthers' captain Aleksander Barkov, who left Game 2 in the third period after a hit from Leon Draisaitl along the boards, practiced in full on Wednesday morning before his team's lengthy travel day that included an 8:00 p.m. MT arrival in Edmonton due to monsoon-like weather around Fort Lauderdale causing over a three-hour delay to their departure.

The Oilers can't bank on tired legs from the Panthers, but what they can control is their own work rate and the type of effort they bring to Thursday's amazing opportunity to respond on home ice in the Stanley Cup Final.

"I think just win puck battles. I think that's the key," Hyman added. "There are many different areas of the ice where it doesn't seem like you'd create offence, but those little puck battles on the wall – in your own zone, in the neutral zone and in the corners – those leads to offence. We just have to get back to skating and working. We like playing here.

"We like playing in Edmonton. We've had a great record at home and in the series, we're down two but both games could have gone either way. So we're excited about the opportunity to defend home ice here and play in front of this crowd. It's going to be great."