Another Panthers power outage in Game 6, and now the season comes down to Game 7

The good news for the Florida Panthers is this: There’s a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night, and it’s on their home ice.

And they need to figure a whole lot of things out by then.

Another chance to win the Stanley Cup became another power outage for the Panthers on Friday night, when Florida lost 5-1 to the Edmonton Oilers in Game 6 of the title series. A 3-0 series lead is now completely gone, and the season will end Monday night either with the Panthers celebrating a great escape or dealing with a great embarrassment by watching the Oilers hoist the Cup in their rink.

“You’ve suffered a defeat, you feel it, it hurts,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said. “You lick your wounds and we start building that back tomorrow. But who you are tonight means nothing to who you’re going to be two days from now.”

The list of things the Panthers didn’t like Friday night were many, namely a goal by Aleksander Barkov getting waved off after an Edmonton challenge for offsides in the second period. Florida was furious after the goal was taken down; Edmonton was predictably thrilled.

By NHL policy, “the original call on the ice will be overturned if, and only if, a conclusive and irrefutable determination can be made on the basis of video evidence that the original call on the ice was clearly not correct. If a review is not conclusive and/or there is any doubt whatsoever as to whether the call on the ice was correct, the original call on the ice will be confirmed.”

But while that call surely changed the game a bit, the Panthers had more problems.

Florida — on a night where it could have won the Cup — got nothing going offensively for the first period, managing only two shots on goal to set a season-low in the season’s 105th game. Midway through the second period, the Panthers were up to only six shots. Edmonton’s defense has been vastly improved since the start of the series, but many of the Panthers’ biggest names were invisible on the stat sheet.

Sam Reinhart, the team’s leading goal scorer, didn’t get his first shot on goal until 4:47 remained. Matthew Tkachuk didn’t get his first to the net until 3:09 was left. The power play was scoreless in three opportunities and is 1 for 19 in the series.

“They came out hungrier than us,” Panthers forward Carter Verhaeghe said. “They wanted it and that was kind of it. We didn’t really get to our forecheck off the start and they took it to us, so I think it’s for us to get better and I think we need some better starts.”

It has been a wild turnaround. Through the first eight periods of this series, the cumulative score was Florida 11, Edmonton 2. In the 10 periods since, the score was Edmonton 20, Florida 5. Giving up 18 goals in a three-game span of the Stanley Cup Final happened only five previous times, and Florida just became the sixth team on that list. None of the first five teams won the title.

And now, Game 7 awaits.

“We have one game to go,” Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov said. “We were ready right from the start to play a seven-game series, and nothing changes now. We got up three, and they played three good games. Now it’s up to us to win at home.”


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