G14+ Game Notes: Falling behind in a playoff series nothing new for the Stars

Photo credit:© Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
27 days ago
Following a double-overtime victory on the road in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final, the Edmonton Oilers will look to take a 2-0 series lead over the Dallas Stars on Saturday evening.
1. For Dallas, falling behind in a playoff series is nothing new. The Stars have dropped seven consecutive Game 1s in a row, with their most recent series-opening victory coming in the 2020 Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning, a series they ultimately lost in six.
Teams that go up 2-0 in a best-of-seven playoff series wind up winning that series 86.3 percent of the time. That said, the Stars have proven that they’re a team capable of pulling themselves back after falling behind. They dropped the first two games of their first-round series to the Vegas Golden Knights at home and wound up winning the series in seven games.
That series was a bit of revenge for the Stars, who were dropped by the Golden Knights in last year’s Western Conference Final. Vegas went up 2-0 in that series and eventually finished things off in six games.
“We know the importance of the early parts of the series, particularly last year,” DeBoer said before this year’s playoffs started. “Losing the first two games in overtime and getting in that hole was essentially the series. We tried to climb back in. But you get in a hole, I think, against a really good team at this time of year early in the series, it’s really hard to climb out.”
The Oilers have also seen 2-0 series leads evaporate in the past. Back in 2017, they marched into Anaheim and took the first two games of their second-round series on the road. After that, the Ducks battled back with three consecutive wins, two of which were in overtime, and clinched the series at home in Game 7.
The moral of the story? A playoff series isn’t over after the first couple of games. The Oilers have put themselves in a very nice spot by stealing home-ice advantage against Dallas but they still need to find a way to win three more times.
“Just a Game 1, right?” Dallas forward Evgenii Dadonov said on Friday. “Tomorrow, we have to forget about it and just move on.”
2. Since falling behind 3-2 to the Vancouver Canucks in the second round, the Oilers have won three consecutive games. They had a commanding 5-1 win in Edmonton in Game 6 and went into Vancouver for Game 7 and came out with a 3-2 victory.
The Oilers rolled into their series against the Stars riding the wave of having won back-to-back elimination games, while Dallas had five days off between their series-clinching win over Vegas and Game 1 against Edmonton. DeBoer noted that the Stars didn’t match the mindset that the Oilers had in Game 1.
“One team kind of came into the game with a Game 7 mindset — them,” DeBoer said. “And I thought we looked like we had kind of a five-day-off mindset… It’s just thin margins. So we have to get that fixed.”
The Stars are now the more desperate team and will surely come out with a very strong effort to avoid losing another game at home. The Oilers need to maintain that urgency they’ve had over their past three games to ensure Dallas doesn’t regain momentum.
3. The Oilers have used the same lineup in their three consecutive wins but it appears they might make a change ahead of Game 2 in Dallas. Adam Henrique, who suffered a foot/ankle injury in Game 5 of Edmonton’s first-round series against the Los Angeles Kings and suited up just once against the Canucks, is apparently getting close to making his return.
Getting a smart two-way player like Henrique back will be a boost for the Oilers, but given how well the team has been playing, it’s difficult to say who should be pulled from the lineup. Mattias Janmark, Derek Ryan, and Connor Brown have all been excellent on the penalty kill and Sam Carrick has been one of Edmonton’s best centres on faceoffs while also adding some toughness to the fourth line.
The Stars might also get a reinforcement, as DeBoer said that Roope Hintz is a possibility for Game 2. Dallas’ top centre suffered a hand/wrist injury against the Colorado Avalanche and has missed the team’s last three games. The 6-foot-3 pivot scored 30 goals and 65 points this season and finished sixth in the Selke Trophy voting for the league’s best defensive forward.

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