Oil­ers re­group for Game 4

Cape Breton Post - - Sports - BY DONNA SPENCER

They may be young in play­off years, but the Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers al­ready know what it takes to bounce back from a de­mor­al­iz­ing loss in the post-sea­son.

As they re­group from their 6-3 loss to the Ana­heim Ducks, the Oil­ers point to a pair of wins af­ter they were thumped 7-0 by the San Jose Sharks in the first round.

Those two vic­to­ries pro­pelled Ed­mon­ton to the Western Con­fer­ence semi­fi­nal against the Ducks and marked the first time since 2006 the Oil­ers made the sec­ond round.

Af­ter go­ing 2-0 in Ana­heim to take the lead in the be­stof-seven se­ries, the Oil­ers were brought down to earth Sun­day at Rogers Place. The Ducks scored 25 sec­onds into the game and led 3-0 by the 12-minute mark.

“We’ve got to re­cover here, just like we did in the San Jose se­ries,’’ Ed­mon­ton head coach Todd McLel­lan said Mon­day out­side the Oil­ers dress­ing room.

“We’re in the ex­act same spot although it feels a little more doom and gloom. I don’t know if that’s from the way we played or that’s the feel I get from the line of ques­tion­ing that I’m an­swer­ing.’’

The Oil­ers got up off the mat to tem­po­rar­ily tie the game Sun­day. NHL reg­u­larsea­son points leader Con­nor McDavid scored a pretty equalizer with his first goal of the se­ries.

Ed­mon­ton couldn’t han­dle a sec­ond surge by the Ducks, how­ever.

With a two-day break be­fore Wed­nes­day’s Game 4 at Rogers Place, the Ducks left town and headed for Kelowna, B.C.

“I don’t think they’re wrong in do­ing that,’’ McLel­lan said. “If we’re for­tu­nate enough to go on, we may do some­thing like that down the road.

“Oiler fans are pretty emo­tional, pretty rabid. They’re every­where. They’re like ants, which is great for us.’’

The Oil­ers didn’t get the rock­star goal­tend­ing from Cam Tal­bot on Sun­day that they did in his 39-save per­for­mance in Game 2.

The Ducks scored twice on their first three shots of the game. Chris Wag­ner’s gamewin­ner mid­way through the sec­ond pe­riod caught Tal­bot un­der the arm and de­flected into the net.

“Ob­vi­ously one Tal­bot would like to have back. By no means am I throw­ing darts at him. We wouldn’t be up 2-1 with­out him,’’ McLel­lan said.

“It de­flates the team a little bit. It al­lowed (the Ducks) to get through to the end of the pe­riod, re­group and talk about things. Good, ma­ture teams like they are, they gather their thoughts and come out and play the way the did in the third.’’

And while McDavid’s goal was a show-stop­per as he spun on a dime and ri­fled a shot over John Gib­son’s far shoul­der, the 20-year-old was also mi­nus-2 in the game.

“One of the things he’s done a very good job of all sea­son is un­der­stand­ing that with­out his of­fence on some given nights we still have the abil­ity to win,’’ McLel­lan said.

“When he checks and puts him­self in po­si­tion to de­fend, he of­ten ends up with many more chances. He like, ev­ery­body else, is learn­ing. We’ll show him some of the video that he’ll be able to tell me about be­fore I even get to it be­cause he’s that sharp.’’

The coach was more blunt when asked Sun­day night about the post-sea­son con­tri­bu­tions of for­ward Jor­dan Eberle with the answer “not enough.’’ Eberle has two as­sists in nine play­off games.

The 26-year-old plays on the sec­ond line with Ryan Nu­gent-Hop­kins and Mi­lan Lu­cic, but Eberle saw some time along­side McDavid on Sun­day.

“He’s learn­ing as he goes as well,’’ McLel­lan said of Eberle. “It’s great to be mak­ing strong plays on the board and check­ing well and that type of stuff, but you also have to find a way to con­trib­ute on the power play.’’

Ed­mon­ton’s power play went 3-for-12 over the first three games of the se­ries and could pro­duce more with more ex­e­cu­tion in the faceoff cir­cle. The Ducks have won 12 of 23 draws when short-handed.

“They do re­ally go hand in hand,’’ McLel­lan said. “You get a chance to start 25 feet from their net. You lose a draw and all of a sud­den it turns into 200 feet.’’


Ana­heim Ducks’ Ryan Kesler, cen­tre, tries to get the puck past Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers goalie Cam Tal­bot as Con­nor McDavid checks him dur­ing third-pe­riod ac­tion in Ed­mon­ton on Sun­day.

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