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Down and stressed after early losses, Oilers fans getting their confidence back

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EDMONTON -

When your team is already down three games in the Stanley Cup final series and a single loss would mean the dream of a championship victory parade is over, it's understandable that anxiety for Edmonton Oilers fans is through the roof.

"It's up here! I'm telling you it is so high!" said Ethan Newman, 17, who was among a large and exuberant crowd watching on a big screen outside Rogers Place in downtown Edmonton as the Oilers took an early lead against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night, eventually winning the game 5-3.

"It's just crazy, because no one's come back and won four in a row since '42. I don't know, I'm quite nervous but I never give up."

The Oilers are looking to become the first team since the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1942 to come back from a three-nothing deficit to win the Stanley Cup.

It seemed impossible and remains daunting, but after thrashing the Panthers Saturday night 8-1 in Game 4 and their win Tuesday, Edmonton fans are hopeful their team can win two more.

"I broke down crying. I'm not going to lie, I broke down crying," Austin Zaplotinski, 16, said about the Oilers' third loss in a row last week.

As he spoke on Tuesday, the Oilers were leading 4-2.

"I think the Oilers could do it. They have the best player in the world -- the two best players in the world. I know that they can do it," he said.

Shania Sandoval, who admitted she's only been an Oilers fan since the start of this year's playoffs, said she was "a little down" after the team's first three losses in the series. She also admitted she's been "stress eating."

But she said she was a bit more confident following the team's surprising comeback in game 4 on Saturday.

"Still two more games," she said as the clock ticked down towards Tuesday's win. "The job's not finished. I know we can do it!"

Mary Loewen, who was dressed as the Stanley Cup at Tuesday's watch party, said she hasn't been anxious at all.

Loewen said she's been a fan since 1984 when the Oilers won their first of five Stanley Cups, and she said her confidence is strong because she has the same feeling now as she did then.

"I'm so confident in my boys -- the Oilers. We're gonna do it," she said.

Other fans, though, like 18-year-old Sarah Gauvin, likely won't relax until the Oilers win Game 7 or get knocked out.

Gauvin, who plays hockey herself and is a Professional Women's Hockey League fan, was worried after the Oilers lost three in a row at the start of the series.

"Oh my God, I'm barely sleeping, barely eating. I've been so nervous after Game three," she said during the last minutes of Tuesday's win.

"It's scary but I think we're going to push through. I think we've got it."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 19, 2024.