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Edmonton fans the home ice advantage that could send Stanley Cup final to Game 7, former Oiler says

The Edmonton Oilers last hosted a Game 6 in the Stanley Cup final 18 years ago — and Craig MacTavish remembers it clearly.

The former Oilers head coach recalls leaving the dressing room, standing behind the bench and hearing the noise in the Northlands Ice Coliseum, the previous home arena.

“The way the fans were reacting and how pumped they were to have the team back after facing elimination,” MacTavish said. “Much like this team did [Tuesday] night.” 

The Ice District in downtown Edmonton erupted when the Oilers held on for a 5-3 victory Tuesday against the Florida Panthers in Sunrise, Fla., dragging the Panthers back to Alberta for Game 6 at Rogers Place on Friday.

It was the team’s second win in a row while facing elimination, having dropped the first three contests of the best-of-seven series.

A woman dressed in glittery silver laughs in a crowd of cheering people.
Superfan Mary Loewen, also known as ‘Mama Stanley,’ celebrates with the crowd in the Edmonton Ice District after the Oilers won Game 5 against the Florida Panthers. (Timon Johnson/CBC)

The downtown arena is “a much better facility” than the old coliseum, MacTavish said, but the fans are “very much like-minded” as those during the 2006 run.

“They’re going to give us a decided advantage,” said MacTavish, who won four Stanley Cups as a player — three with Edmonton; one with the New York Rangers — and served as the Oilers head coach from 2000 to 2009.

Florida ‘still in driver’s seat’

Alex Baumgartner, Panthers beat writer for Five Reasons Sports, based in Florida, credited Oilers captain Connor McDavid for stepping up the past two games, producing back-to-back four-point outings in games 4 and 5.

“He has put the Oilers on his back,” Baumgartner said.

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But Florida is “still in the driver’s seat,” despite the players’ apparent frustration, he added.

“When you have a chance to win it on home ice and you come up just short, it’s good to see some frustration levels because you know these guys want it,” he said. 

“No matter how it’s going, you’re still up 3-2 and you do have a potential Game 7 at home, which is always important.”

WATCH | Oilers hang on to force Game 6: 

Oilers hang on to force Game 6

3 days ago

Duration 2:10

The Edmonton Oilers have finally managed to win a road game in the Stanley Cup finals against the Florida Panthers and force a Game 6 back at home in Edmonton. CBC’s Sam Samson followed the team to Sunrise, Fla,. and breaks down the win and how fans are feeling about dragging the series back to Alberta.

The Panthers must have a good start on the road, though, Baumgartner said. 

“They were able to kind of claw back in Game 5 in South Florida, but they had the home crowd on their side,” he said.

“When you’re going down on the road, especially in Rogers Place — because that place was rocking for Game 4 when the Oilers went up 3-1 — it’s going to be a lot harder to climb yourself out of a hole, on the road, when you don’t have the last change, when everyone’s against you.”

Fans cheer in crowded stands of an ice rink with "Wave your towel" written on the ice.
If necessary, Game 7 of the 2024 Stanley Cup final would be at Amerant Arena in Sunrise, Fla., shown here during Game 1. (Michael Laughlin/AP Photo)

Game 6 starts at 6 p.m. MT Friday at Rogers Place, and will be broadcast on CBC.

CBC Edmonton will also be sharing the excitement on its TikTok channel, @cbcedmonton.

Game 7, if necessary, would be Monday in Florida.

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