The Edmonton Oilers made it through two rounds of the NHL playoffs, but they used two mulligans in Game 1 in the process.
They’ll be looking to start strong this time against the Colorado Avalanche when the Western Conference Finals kick off Tuesday in Denver.
“We want to have a good first 10 minutes and a good first period,” defenseman Tyson Barrie said Saturday after the Oilers practiced at Rogers Place. “Everyone has to be ready, it’s a good club to play against us. In those two [Game 1s] we probably could have played better.
In the first round, the Los Angeles Kings extended an early 2-0 lead over Edmonton en route to a 4-3 Game 1 win. The Oilers came back to win the series in seven games.
In their opener of the second round against Calgary, the Oilers gave up two goals just 51 seconds into the game. The Flames went on to win 9-6 before Edmonton stormed back to win four straight games.
The top seeded Avalanche, led by blueliner Cale Makar and star forward Nathan MacKinnon, secured their third-round berth with a Game 6 win over St. Louis on Friday night. Makar has been second among defensemen in the league this season with 86 points and MacKinnon has 13 points in 10 playoff games.
The Oilers, who finished fifth in conference standings — 15 points behind Colorado — had standout performances from Connor McDavid and linemate Leon Draisaitl, who share the playoff lead with 26 points each.
“We play good hockey, we beat a good team from Calgary [and] It’s only going to get harder,” McDavid said. “We’re playing against a really good Colorado team and they’re going to do our best.”
A little more calm
Coach Jay Woodcroft promised his team would be ready to be strong early in Game 1 against the Avalanche, but noted that the Oilers had managed to rally in their previous opener games.
“We didn’t win Game #1 but we were in both games,” said Woodcroft. “Both were tied in the third period. For us, we look at every inch of the film, every inch of the prep, and see where we can be better. It’s just what we do.
The Oilers and Avalanche have faced each other three times in the regular season.
The Avalanche won twice, once in a shootout and once in overtime. Edmonton won 6-3 on April 22, with Evander Kane – who has scored 12 goals in the playoffs so far – scoring a hat trick.
Edmonton also enjoyed a little more calm after dispatching the flames Thursday night.
Woodcroft said his players adjusted their style and dealt with adversity well in both series.
“Both teams presented quite different challenges,” he said. “I think it’s good for us to navigate through each series that has been completely different.
“It strengthens and encourages our faith.”
Flames’ Chris Tanev is set to undergo shoulder surgery
Calgary Flames defenseman Chris Tanev said he will have shoulder surgery next month and will be sidelined for four to six months.
He told reporters Saturday that he dislocated his shoulder in Game 6 of the first-round series against the Dallas Stars on May 13.
Tanev missed the Flames’ Game 7 win over Dallas and the first three games of the Western Conference second-round series against Edmonton. The Oilers eliminated Calgary with a 5-4 overtime win in Game 5 on Thursday.
The 32-year-old Tanev has appeared in all 82 games this season and has a career-high 28 points (six goals, 22 assists) on 28 points. He added an assist in eight playoff games.
He has 158 points (30 goals, 128 assists) in 652 games in 12 seasons with the Vancouver Canucks (2010-20) and Flames.