NHL: Golden Knights poised to advance by playing it even vs. Oilers
The Edmonton Oilers’ dominant power play simply has not been enough in their Western Conference second-round series against the Vegas Golden Knights.
The Oilers will search for a way to control Game 6 during five-on-five play to keep their championship hopes alive when they play host to Vegas on Sunday.
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Edmonton will face elimination with a 3-2 deficit in the best-of-seven series.
Both teams have scored 17 goals through the first five games of the series. The Oilers have tallied nine times on the power play, including all three in Friday’s crucial 4-3 road loss. They also have a goal while short-handed.
Vegas has only four power-play goals but has owned the series at even strength with 13 goals.
“For sure, our power play is great, but you have to be able to score five-on-five,” Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl said. “We just have to look at it and take care of that.”
The series has been a back-and-forth affair. Vegas has won the even-numbered games, while the Oilers have responded from their first two losses with impressive victories.
“Confident. Yeah, confident,” said Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft, whose team erased a 3-2 series deficit last year against the Los Angeles Kings.
“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 day’s 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 back on a flight and come down to Vegas to challenge in Game 7.”
The Golden Knights also have plenty of confidence. Vegas has found power-play success when it needed it most, notably in pair of tallies 29 seconds apart in the second period of Friday’s win. Nicolas Hague also scored another minute later, turning a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 edge the Oilers were unable to overcome.
“In the playoffs, there are so many different momentum swings in the game,” said Vegas forward Reilly Smith, whose goal was the second of the second-period trio that came in a franchise playoff-record 89-second span.
“The team who can handle them better and control them usually ends up on top. We did a better job (Friday).”
With two chances to win the series, the Golden Knights are not fretting. Vegas posted the league’s third best road record during the regular season and has won three of four road playoff games. The goal will be to build off their Game 5 win instead of allowing the Oilers back into the series.
“There’s a balance of keeping that momentum high but also taking a step back, looking at what we could have done better,” said Vegas defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, who will return to the lineup after serving his one-game suspension for a slash on Draisaitl in Game 4.
“We need to do the best we can to re-set, but emotions are going to be high. … They’re going to be amped up, so we have to find a way to match their energy.”
The Oilers will receive a boost to the lineup, with defenseman Darnell Nurse eligible to return after serving his one-game banishment for receiving an instigator penalty late in his team’s Game 4 win.
–Field Level Media
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