The Edmonton Oilers have made it through two rounds of the NHL playoffs, but they’ve used two Game 1 mulligans along the way.
They’ll look to start strong this time around against the Colorado Avalanche when the Western Conference final kicks off Tuesday in Denver.
“We want to have a good first 10 minutes, good first period,” defenseman Tyson Barrie said Saturday after the Oilers practiced at Rogers Place. “Everyone has got to be ready, that’s a good club coming against us. In those two [Game 1s] we probably could have played better for sure.
In the first round, the Los Angeles Kings built an early 2-0 lead on Edmonton en route to a 4-3 Game 1 victory. The Oilers came back to win the series in seven games.
In their second-round series opener 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 games in a row.
The top-seeded Avalanche, meanwhile, led by blueliner Cale Makar and star forward Nathan MacKinnon, secured their spot in the third round with a Game 6 win over St. Louis on Friday night. Makar was second among league defensemen with 86 points this season and MacKinnon has 13 points in 10 playoff games.
The Oilers, who finished in fifth place – 15 points behind Colorado – in the conference standings, have had standout performances by Connor McDavid and linemate Leon Draisaitl, who share the playoff scoring lead with 26 points apiece.
“We’re playing good hockey, we beat a good Calgary team [and] it’s only going to get harder,” McDavid said. “We’re playing a real good Colorado team and it’s going to take our best.”
A little more rest
Coach Jay Woodcroft promised his team would be ready to come out strong at the start of Game 1 against the Avalanche, but noted the Oilers managed to rally in their previous series openers.
“We didn’t come out with the wins in game No. 1, but we were in both games,” said Woodcroft. “Both of them were tied in the third period. For us, we look at every inch of film, every inch of preparation and see where we can be better. It’s just what we do.
The Oilers and Avalanche faced each other three times in the regular season.
The Avalanche won twice, once in a shootout and another in overtime. Edmonton won 6-3 on April 22, with Evander Kane – who has 12 goals so far in the playoffs – notching a hat trick.
Edmonton also enjoyed a little more rest after dispatching the Flames on Thursday night.
Woodcroft said his players have adjusted their styles and handled adversity well in both series.
“Both of those teams represented pretty different challenges,” he said. “For us to navigate our way through each series, which was completely different, I think it serves us well.
“It strengthens and hearts our belief.”
Flames’ Chris Tanev to have shoulder surgery
Calgary Flames defenseman Chris Tanev said he will have shoulder surgery next month and be sidelined four to six months.
He told reporters Saturday that he sustained a dislocated shoulder during Game 6 of the first-round series against the Dallas Stars on May 13.
Tanev missed the Flames’ Game 7 win against 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.
Tanev, 32, skated in all 82 games this season and posted a career-high 28 points (six goals, 22 assists). He added one assist in eight playoff games.
He has 158 points (30 goals, 128 assists) in 652 games over 12 seasons with the Vancouver Canucks (2010-20) and Flames.