DENVER, CO- Stop by if you’ve heard this one before…
The Oilers find themselves in familiar territory after Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals as they have now trailed 1-0 in all three playoffs so far after an opener that saw them allow more goals than they would have liked.
In the first round, it was a 4-3 loss to the Los Angeles Kings. In the Battle of Alberta, it was a chaotic, record-breaking 9-6 loss. And in almost identical fashion on Tuesday night in Denver, the Colorado Avalanche went 8-6 to draw first blood in their Stanley Cup semifinal series.
The downside is obvious as they have to get out of another hole early. On the other hand, they’ve already rebounded well in back-to-back rounds, winning in seven games against the Kings and winning four in a row against the Calgary Flames to win the Battle of Alberta in five.
“Game 1s weren’t our thing, there’s no doubt about that,” said the veteran striker Ryan Nugent Hopkinswhose power-play scorer drew the Oilers within a point at 12:36 of the third period before the player selected just after him second overall in the 2011 NHL Draft, Gabriel Landeskog, iced the victory for the Avalanche with an empty net.
“We didn’t play our best last night and we didn’t play our best in that Calgary opener. We know we have better. We trust in ourselves and in each other. To be a team on the road to start a streak, you want to be able to do a split on the way home and we have the opportunity to do that tomorrow.”
Video: RAW | Ryan Nugent Hopkins 06.01.22
The Oilers will look to replicate their results from Game 2 of the first two rounds on Thursday as they aim for road separation with Game 3 back in Edmonton on Saturday.
“It definitely helps”, the defender Cody Ceci said of their previous rebounds from Game 1 losses. “[Colorado] showed us last night what a good team they can be, so we’ll have to play our ‘A’ game tomorrow. We came here aiming to get one of the two games, so tomorrow will be very important for our team.”
With a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals to win this series, a 2-0 deficit is something the Oilers will do everything in their power to avoid, but they’re committed to staying calm in the process.
Video: RAW | Cody Ceci 06.01.22
“There’s definitely an emergency,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “We know you can’t let it slip away, but at the same time there’s no panic. It’s more urgent and finding a way to do our best.”
After allowing four goals in Game 1 to the Kings in Round 1, Edmonton responded with a 6-0 shutout in Game 2. After giving up nine goals to the Flames to start Round 2, they bounced back with a 5-3 victory. A significant decrease in their goals against will be paramount for the Oilers on Thursday in Denver.
“We definitely have to be a lot better than yesterday,” head coach Jay Woodcroft said. “Our focus on our controlling and defensive abilities can improve significantly.”