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G18+ Game Notes: Oilers one win away from Stanley Cup Final

Edmonton Oilers Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scores goal vs Dallas Stars
Photo credit:Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
14 days ago
The Florida Panthers punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final with a win in Game 6 at home against the New York Rangers on Saturday night. Can the Edmonton Oilers do the same?
1. Following a commanding 3-1 win in Dallas in Game 5 on Friday, the Oilers have a 3-2 series lead over the Stars in the Western Conference Final. Edmonton now has an opportunity to finish off this series on home ice in front of what will surely be an incredible crowd.
It’s been a long time since the Oilers advanced to the Stanley Cup Final with a win at home. Back in 2006, they finished off the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final on the road. In 1990, they beat the Chicago Blackhawks on the road in Game 6 of the Clarence Campbell Conference Final.
You have to go back to 1988 to find the last time the Oilers were in this situation. They carried a 3-1 series lead over the Detroit Red Wings and advanced to the Stanley Cup Final with an 8-4 win at Northlands Coliseum in Game 5.
“It’s a huge opportunity,” Oilers forward Zach Hyman said. “We’ve set ourselves up well to have a chance to win this series at home. It was a good lesson in the previous series learning how important Game 5 is, but every team plays their best with their backs against the wall. Dallas is a great team, and it’s going to be a big test for us.”
2. The Oilers know full well that a 3-2 series lead isn’t an automatic victory. In the second round of the playoffs, the Vancouver Canucks went up 3-2 over the Oilers following a Game 5 victory at home. Edmonton battled back with a huge win at home in Game 6 and then clinched the series in Game 7 in Vancouver.
“Everybody talks about momentum in a series. It shifts game to game. We were able to put together two good games,” Oilers captain Connor McDavid said. “We’ve put ourselves in an opportunity at home to win a big game, but that’s all we’ve done. There’s a lot of work to do.”
The Stars were the league’s strongest road team this season with a 26-10-5 record away from their own building and they’ve gone 6-2 on the road during the playoffs.
“We’re concentrating on winning one road game,” Stars head coach Pete DeBoer said. “We’ve been the best road team in the league all year and the best road team in the playoffs. We’ve got to go and win one road game.”
In the first round of the playoffs against the Vegas Golden Knights, Dallas fell behind 2-0 thanks to back-to-back home losses in Games 1 and 2. They battled back with road wins in Games 3 and 4 and wound up taking the series at home in Game 7.
Three of the Stars’ four wins in their second-round series against the Colorado Avalanche came on the road. The two teams split Games 1 and 2 in Dallas and then the Stars won Games 3 and 4 in Colorado. The Avs kept the series alive with a Game 5 win in Dallas, and then the Stars finished them off with an overtime victory in Game 6 in Colorado.
“We’ve been in this situation before,” Stars forward Matt Duchene said. “We had a Game 7 already. This team, we’re never out of it. We have a great hockey team and a lot of character in this room, and there’ll be no quit.”
3. It’s incredible that the Oilers are in this position right now considering how things looked one month into the season. In mid-November, the Oilers had a 3-9-1 record and fired head coach Jay Woodcroft and assistant coach Dave Manson. They went 46-18-5 the rest of the way with Kris Knoblauch and Paul Coffey behind the bench, highlighted by a 16-game winning streak that was one shy of matching an NHL record.
“I saw a team that was very hard on themselves, one that was very frustrated,” Knoblauch said in regards to taking over as Edmonton’s head coach back in November. “Things hadn’t been going their way and it was a team that was probably trying too hard. That sounds ironic that you can try too hard, but you just get so caught up and you’re not thinking straight and you’re just trying to do too much and when you’re trying to do everything, ultimately you’re doing other people’s jobs and you’re not doing your job as well and everything’s disconnected.”
That early-season adversity helped the Oilers become the team they are today — a team that’s just one win away from reaching the Stanley Cup Final.
“I think our group has a strong belief in each other and we’ve always been our best when we face adversity,” Zach Hyman said. “I think any team that goes on and has a run usually faces some type of adversity, and we faced ours early. We were comfortable in those situations and then faced it in the Vancouver series, faced it here [against Dallas]. We faced it throughout the whole year and we were better for it.”

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