Florida Panthers welcome back their best player

Panthers welcome back Nick Cousins for Game 6 vs. Oilers

Forward Nick Cousins, who has been scratched from the last eight playoff games, will be in the lineup when the Florida Panthers visit the Edmonton Oilers on Friday in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final.

The Panthers hold a 3-2 lead the best-of-seven series but have lost the last two games.

Cousins, who celebrated his 31st birthday on Thursday, is expected to replace Kyle Okposo on the fourth line.

“It’s his turn to draw in,” Florida coach Paul Maurice said Thursday. “I really liked where Kyle was at. Not that he had a game that changed my mind, but I thought he deserved, based on play, to stay in. The switch was kind of there. I thought, if there was a Game 6 that Nick could go.”


Cousins last played on May 26 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final against the New York Rangers. He practiced on the fourth line on Thursday at right wing, with Ryan Lomberg at left wing and Kevin Stenlund at center.

“I’m excited to come in and help the boys,” said Cousins, who has one assist in 11 games this postseason. “I think I can help, create some energy, and I have fresh legs, which are certainly important this time of year.”

Cousins collected seven goals and eight assists in 69 regular-season games in his second campaign with Florida. In his 10-year NHL career, he has 71 goals and 109 assists in 592 games with the Philadelphia Flyers (2014-17), Arizona Coyotes (2017-19), Montreal Canadiens (2019-20), Vegas Golden Knights (2019-20), Nashville Predators (2020-22) and Panthers.

Okposo, 36, has two assists in 16 playoff games. He didn’t register a point in six regular-season games with the Panthers following a March 8 trade from the Buffalo Sabres, with whom he had 12 goals and 10 assists in 61 contests.

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