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The Day After +11.0: Edmonton Oilers pushed to brink of elimination after 4-3 loss to Vegas Golden Knights
By Zach Laing9 months ago
The Edmonton Oilers aren’t in any position they haven’t been in before.
After Friday night’s 4-3 loss at the hands of the Vegas Golden Knights, the team from Northern Alberta finds themself facing elimination down three games to two. But all it takes is a look back a calendar year to see the Oilers having faced adversity like this.
In the 2022 first round of the playoffs, the Oilers went up against a gritty Los Angeles Kings team and after five games, faced a 3-2 series deficit. The Oilers, much like they will Sunday night, will play game six on home ice facing a potential game seven on the road.
Against the Kings last year in those two games, Connor McDavid played two of the best hockey games of his entire career. The Oilers won game six 4-2 and choked out the Kings with a 2-0 victory on the road — one that featured McDavid seal game seven with a late goal.
Can he and the Oilers repeat history?
“You have to win a game on the road, you have to win a game at home, right?,” said Oilers forward Zach Hyman after the game. “You got to win two games in a row. We won two games in a row I don’t know how many times this season. We’re definitely capable of it.
“There’s strong confidence in this room and we do our best when our backs are against the wall. We’re excited for the opportunity.”
But before they get there, it’s going to take putting this frustrating game five behind them.
Edmonton had the start they wanted. As they have all series long, they scored the first goal of the game — in this one, McDavid found twine 3:02 into it — but the problem was that once again, Vegas responded with one of their own 50 seconds later. Hyman getting a powerplay goal of his own extended the lead to 2-1 which the Oilers carried into the second.
THE DAY AFTER IS PRESENTED BY BETWAY
But a disastrous three-minute stretch cost them.
Oilers defenceman Philip Broberg was tagged on a brutal holding penalty by referee Steve Kozari, who was watching the play from the neutral zone, while his partner, Chris Lee was a mere feet away. Then, 40 seconds later, a lazy stick by Mattias Janmark found its way into Jack Eichel’s face.
Over the next two minutes, Mark Stone and Reilly Smith would score on the power play, before Nic Hague ended Stuart Skinner’s night with a shot from the point.
It’s not like the Oilers didn’t have opportunities to score, either. With under 40 seconds left in the second period, Keegan Kolesar laid a dirty hit from behind on Mattias Ekholm that sent him off for a five-minute major penalty for boarding. The Oilers were able to score once in thanks to a beautiful rush from McDavid, but they couldn’t find the equalizer.
“I thought our team pushed hard in that third period,” said Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft. “I thought the powerplay did its thing right off the bat, we had numerous chances to tie it up.
“We hit a post, we had some really good looks. It didn’t bounce our way today. That’s the way it goes.”
That’s the way it goes indeed.
And for Woodcroft and his crew preparing to head back home for an important game-six, they know exactly what they need to do.
“Confident. Confident,” said a decisive Woodcroft when asked how he feels about the Oilers. “We love the way we’ve played in our building all year. We’ve had a mindset here for the last year and a half about taking care of the days business.
“We have a challenge before us. We’re going to go home, and we’re going to play our best game at home, and get on a flight and come down to Vegas to challenge in game seven.
“Before you can even think about that, you just have to take care of what’s going to happen in game number six, and there’s some small adjustments we can make. There’s individuals who can increase their contribution. But in the end, we’re going to need our best game as a team on home ice.”
Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at email@example.com.
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