On the brink of playoff elimination, Edmonton Oilers seek a faster start, more consistency – Edmonton

Time is running out for the Oilers.

Another slow start led to another loss on Tuesday and now Edmonton is mandatory territory, losing 3-2 to the Los Angeles Kings in their first-round playoff series.

“It’s disappointing. Obviously, you never like to lose,” Captain Connor McDavid said after the Kings beat the Oilers 5-4 in overtime.

“But they give seven games for a reason and we need to get one on the road and bring it back to Edmonton.”

Being on the brink of elimination is surprising for a team that ended the regular season with an 11-2-1 record in April.

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A habit of slow starts plagued the Oilers in the playoffs, giving the Kings a chance to overload and smother their usually potent offense. The first team on the scoreboard won the first five games of the series.

To keep the season alive with a Game 6 win on Thursday, Edmonton needs to be ready when the puck drops, forward Leon Draisaitl said.

“The answer is in the room. We have to come out a little harder,” he said.

“We have to go out with our skating legs under us. We haven’t had that in the last two games, in fact, any game in the series. So we are looking to do that.”

Los Angeles Kings center Adrian Kempe, in the middle, celebrates his goal with teammates, while Edmonton Oilers left winger Zach Hyman looks away during second-period NHL playoff hockey action in Edmonton, Tuesday, May 10, 2022.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

The Oilers’ task in Game 6 has become more difficult after the NHL announced Wednesday that main defender Darnell Nurse will be suspended for the crucial game for headbutting Kings center Phillip Danault late in the second period. of game 5.

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READ MORE: Edmonton Oilers’ Darnell Nurse suspended 1 game per headbutt

The start of Tuesday’s game was simply not at the required level, Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said, but there are still positives to be drawn from the loss.

Trailing 3-1 early in the third, Edmonton pushed into the final frame, scoring a pair of power-play goals and a short count to force overtime.

READ MORE: Los Angeles Kings win Game 5 in OT over Edmonton Oilers

“We would like to bottle the energy in period three, the chemistry that we found in period three, and bring that into the early game,” Woodcroft said.

Edmonton’s special teams were solid early in the playoffs, with the power play going 7-17 in the first five games, while LA is just 2-22.

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READ MORE: Edmonton Oilers seeks power play potency in bid to bounce back for Game 5

Stars like Draisaitl and McDavid have been solid, each recording three-point nights on Tuesday. Draisaitl has seven points (five goals, two assists) in the series and McDavid has nine (two goals, seven assists).

LA spread the scoring, with Danault (three goals, two assists), Adrian Kempe (two goals, three assists) and Trevor Moore (two goals, three assists) each with five points.

The Kings attacked Oilers goalie Mike Smith with a wide range of shots from across the ice as they obstructed the neutral zone and forced turnovers to stop Edmonton’s great shooters from bothering LA goalkeeper Jonathan Quick.

Both sides have had good times throughout the series, Woodcroft said, adding that Edmonton needs to unite theirs for a “full 60.”

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“Both teams know exactly how the other team wants to play the game. It’s about who goes out and executes it,” said the coach. “We know we can do a better job.

“Our focus is on getting our athletes to regenerate and get their minds right so we can win a game in Los Angeles.”

Restarting for a crucial game after a loss isn’t always easy, Draisaitl said, but the team knows they have no other choice.

“We have to go to Los Angeles and win a game and bring him back here and that’s what we’re focused on,” he said.

“We know we can be much better. So go ahead and make sure we are ready for the next one.”

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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