Denver – The Edmonton Oilers head home in Game Three of the Western Conference Final against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; TNT, CBC, SN, TVAS), defeating 2-0 in the best of a series 7, but they hold the belief that the best hockey game is yet to come.
“I don’t think we had our best game yet,” Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said on Friday. “I think there is more to us.
“You obviously want to leave Denver with a split. It didn’t happen, but we’re going home where we’ve been good all year and in the playoffs. We’re looking forward to that game in Edmonton tomorrow night.”
Edmonton is 4-2 at Rogers Place this post-season, and hopes their home ice advantage will give them a boost before Game 3 against Colorado, who won their first two games of the series at the Ball Arena by a combined score of 12-6, including a 4-0 game win. The second is on Thursday.
[RELATED: Complete Avalanche vs. Oilers series coverage]
The Oilers have been 28-12-1 at home this season, their ninth best in the NHL. The avalanche was 24-14-3 on the road, tenth in the league.
“We love playing at home,” Edmonton Center Ryan Nugent Hopkins He said. “We love playing in front of an audience. I think we have the best fans in the league, and it’s going to be loud. It’s going to be exciting. A great opportunity for us to come home and feed the fans and start this thing happening.”
Colorado scored three goals in a 2:04 period during the second half Thursday and stayed in the center Conor McDavid forward Leon Drystelwho played on separate lines in Game 2, is out of the scoring sheet for the second time this season.
“I think we have individuals who have a lot to offer and as a team our game could be a lot better than it was,” Woodcroft said, “I don’t feel yet that we played the full 60 minutes. We had good batches, good periods, but we didn’t play 60.” A full minute so far. I know what our team is capable of, and for sure if we put him in the full 60 minutes, we’ll be in a good spot.”
The Oilers were behind in each of the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs, but never by more than one game. Ranked No. 2 in the Pacific Division, Edmonton trailed the Los Angeles Kings 1-0, 3-2 in the first round before winning in seven games. In the second round, the Oilers trailed by 1-0 before winning the next four games against Calgary Flames.
“Obviously, we can look straight back at the 3-2 loss in L.A., go down there and get that win (4-2 in Game 6), but not only that,” said Nugent Hopkins. “During the season we went through a period of time where we were 2-14 (actually 2-11-2), we had the COVID things going, we had a lot of injuries, we were off the field. And we found a way to get back in the fight and stay flexible as a whole group and push ourselves into the zone A comma and a good place.”
After that slip from December 3 to January. At 20, Edmonton completed the regular season with a 31-11-4 run to finish 49-27-6 and secure second place in the Pacific Division.
Woodcroft replaced Dave Tibbett as coach on February 10, and the Oilers were under him 26-9-3. Signed Edmonton Evander King As a free agent on January 27, the striker is the NHL’s top scorer in the playoffs with 13 goals, having netted 39 points (22 goals, 17 assists) in 43 games during the regular season.
“We’ve certainly been through some ordeals,” Nugent Hopkins said. “I think that’s been one of our best attributes this season is the way we’ve responded to that. We’re excited here. It’s obviously not the position we wanted to be in, but at the same time we have a great opportunity here to come home and start rolling here.”
straight ahead Killer Yamamoto He left Match 2 in the second half with an upper body injury, and Woodcroft has not provided a timeline for his return. If Yamamoto is out of Game 3, Edmonton may need to make more adjustments to find spark against Colorado, which is 5-0 on the road this post-season.
“I think we’ve maintained a level of flexibility over the past three and a half months that makes it difficult for us to predict and allows us to make the necessary adjustments,” Woodcroft said. “I thought the way the match was played yesterday, we were able to take out Connor’s streak against the people we wanted. Not all the time, but we did a few things in order to get that. I think when you’re at home it’s a little easier because you control the last change.”