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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Vladimir Tarasenko has lived the dream.

The 32-year-old forward won the Stanley Cup in 2019 with the St. Louis Blues and he did it in a Game 7, the most dramatic possible end to the longest, most demanding championship journey in professional sports.

Now, the Florida Panthers forward is trying to provide the necessary knowledge for his teammates to join him for Game 7 of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final against the Edmonton Oilers at Amerant Bank Arena on Monday (8 p.m. ET; ABC, ESPN+, SN, TVAS, CBC).

“Stay with the plan,” Tarasenko said Sunday after the final practice of the season. “When the puck drops, you will be able to control your nerves. It’s the same game you played for many, many years. I think whoever can control their emotions better will have a better chance.”

Win and the Panthers will never walk alone, linked together as the first group to win the Stanley Cup in the 30-year history of the franchise. Lose and they will live with the what-ifs of blowing a 3-0 lead in the best-of-7 series and becoming only the second team -- and first since the 1942 Detroit Red Wings against the Toronto Maple Leafs -- to be reverse swept in the Final.

Despite the stakes, it’s an opportunity each member of the Panthers has dreamed about since they were a kid, the scenario that played out day after day on the pond or in the street. Stepping up to score the big goal, etching your name into the history books, becoming part of the lore of the game.

“Game 7, at home, how could you not be so jacked up?,” Florida forward Matthew Tkachuk said. “This is an absolutely 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'm trying to forget all of it. Just go in there and win one game. This is what it comes down to."

Florida hasn’t been close to winning in the past three games. It lost 8-1 on the road in Game 4. It lost 5-3 at home in Game 5 and 5-1 on Friday in Edmonton, which has held a lead of at least three goals in each game.

It does not matter, the Panthers say.

Look at Tarasenko.

In 2019, St. Louis won Game 5 in Boston, against the Bruins, to take a 3-2 lead in the series. It all laid before the Blues in Game 6, a chance to eliminate the favored Bruins and celebrate a first championship for the franchise before the home fans.

Instead, they got blown out, losing 5-1. Suddenly, momentum was on Boston’s side for Game 7.

Until it wasn’t.

The Blues scored twice in the first period, and Tarasenko assisted on the third goal in a 4-1 win.

“To be honest, I slept better [before Game 7] than before Game 6,” Tarasenko said. “I think it’s pretty obvious since you were a little kid playing knee hockey, it’s Game 7 of the Final [you dream about]. Also, Game 6 there are a lot of options in your mind; Game 7, it’s one game and you just have to prepare yourself.”

That’s the message Tarasenko has imparted to anyone who comes seeking his knowledge. What’s done is done. What’s ahead is ahead. You only have now and you better control it.

Forget the numbers. Forget that the home team is 12-5 all-time in Game 7 of the Cup Final and forget that the road team has won each of the past three Game 7s.

Embrace the present.

“We still have another chance to win a Cup,” Tarasenko said. “You have to fix what you have to fix and come in with a positive mindset and believe in the guy next to you. This maybe sounds pretty simple, but it is what it is.”

Panthers defenseman Brandon Montour has picked Tarasenko’s brain a bit. However, he says he is also relying on the Game 7 experience from last season’s playoffs, in the first round against the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Bruins, a victory that fueled a run to the Cup Final where they lost to the Vegas Golden Knights in five games.

“Vlad is obviously a veteran player that helps everyone in this locker room, and it’s huge to have him on our team,” Montour said. “But we had a Game 7 last year for guys that were here, and you’ve got to treat it like one game.

“You play simple, but you’ve got to play to your game and you can’t get caught up with what they’re doing, what’s going on. It’s about guys in this room, and that’s what we intend to do.”

Florida forward Kyle Okposo will likely be scratched for Game 7, as he was for Game 6, replaced by Ryan Lomberg on the fourth line. But this Game 7 is still special for him, something the 36-year-old has been dreaming about since he was a kid playing in his driveway. He has waited 17 NHL seasons for a moment like this.

Sunday, he took his 8-year-old son aside and tried to explain.

“You know what I was doing when I was your age?” Okposo asked. “I was in the driveway with my rollerblades on, pretending I was in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final and I said, ‘How special is it that you are going to able to go to the game?’”

This Game 7 will be the 18th winner-take-all game in the history of the Final. It is a rarity to be embraced and cherished.

“That’s what makes this whole thing awesome, is the context of it,” Florida coach Paul Maurice said. “So, nobody ever, ever has played on a backdoor rink in Canada and scored the Game 3 overtime winner in the qualifying round, OK?

“It’s one game, all this excites you. And that is the context of this game and the one we will live in that context.”