Oilers back on home ice as Edmonton gears up for Game 3

Oilers fans show their support before Game 1 of first-round Stanley Cup NHL hockey playoff action between the Edmonton Oilers and the Los Angeles Kings last month. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press - image credit)

The Edmonton Oilers will play on home ice Thursday for the first time in their Stanley Cup final series with the Florida Panthers.

Fans are hoping the hometown advantage will reverse a two-game deficit in the series.

If the Oilers lose tonight and Saturday, the Panthers will take hockey's top prize down to Florida.

Regardless of the team's playoff fortunes, Rogers and the NHL are rolling out the red carpet for fans of the orange and blue.

They're hosting a Festival at the Final concert series at the Scotiabank Fan Park outside Rogers Place. Juno-winning band Our Lady Peace will perform before Game 3 on Thursday while Canadian music icon Shania Twain will serenade fans on Saturday before Game 4.

No tickets are required to view the performances, which begin at 4 p.m. Doors for game ticket-holders will open at 4:30 p.m.

Remaining tickets are extremely expensive, with Ticketmaster prices starting around $1,000.

CBC will be broadcasting the hockey action both nights. Games start at 6 p.m. MT.

Explore Edmonton, the city's tourism, marketing and events authority, says the economic impact of the first three playoff rounds totals $179 million. That calculation includes spending by visitors, investments in hosting games and watch parties, and increased local spending.

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"I can assume that after we collect the information for the finals, it's going to be pretty staggering number," event executive director Janelle Janis said Wednesday.

Police presence

The last time the Oilers were in the Stanley Cup final was 2006, when a game win saw thousands of fans spill into Whyte Avenue and riot. Oilers ultimately lost the series in Game 7 to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Edmonton police Chief Dale McFee, during an unrelated media event Thursday, said a plan is in place to handle the crowds as the Stanley Cup fever escalates.

"We work with entities such as the Oilers group, and the RCMP have been good partners lending some resources to us as well," McFee said. "There's a secondary plan if we need to add other resources."

Removal of homeless encampments near Rogers Place was done preemptively and, so far, issues with fans have been minor, McFee said.

"For the most part, people are enjoying the festivities," McFee said. "They're kind of partying between the whistles. They're enjoying it for the right reasons.

"If we can just make sure that we maintain that and keep it that way — and the level of intoxication plays a role in that … it makes it a lot easier for all of us."

The Oilers are hoping to become the first Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup since the 1993 Montreal Canadiens.

The Oilers last Stanley Cup win was in 1990. The Florida Panthers have not won a Stanley Cup.