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Panthers F Kyle Okposo gets nod for Game 7 vs. Oilers

By Thomson Reuters Jun 24, 2024 | 1:43 PM

Kyle Okposo spent most of the season looking up in the standings from his position with the Buffalo Sabres, but thanks to a trade-deadline move, he’s now playing for a chance to win the Stanley Cup for the first time.

Panthers coach Paul Maurice made a “solely hockey based” decision to put Okposo into the lineup for Monday night’s definitive Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Edmonton Oilers in Sunrise, Fla.

That leaves Nick Cousins on the bench. Cousins played in Game 6, his first appearance in the series. He played in 11 games over the previous three playoff series, notching one assist and nine shots with a minus-1 rating.

Okposo has two assists in 16 playoff appearances this season and is also minus-1. He played in the first five games against Edmonton.

“I just felt that looking back at the three previous games, Kyle had played slightly better. There are other options with Kyle, like how he comes off the bench in certain situations,” Maurice said, per ESPN. “It’s a difficult thing to do to take a Game 7 away from somebody. It’s such a rare thing, and Nick is so incredibly loved by his team.”

Cousins, 31, has played 592 games with six different teams over a 10-year career, scoring 71 goals with 109 assists.

Okposo, 36, is looking to hoist the Stanley Cup for the first time in his 17-year career. He spent nine seasons with the New York Islanders, followed by eight with the Sabres before landing in Florida. He has 614 points (242 goals and 372 assists) in 1,051 games.

“I grabbed my son today, who’s 8, and said, ‘You know what I was doing when I was your age? I was in the driveway with my Rollerblades on pretending I was in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. How special is it you’re going to the game?” Okposo said Monday.

–Field Level Media