3 Keys: Stars at Oilers, Game 3 of Western Conference Final

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers will attempt to take a 2-1 series lead when they host the Dallas Stars in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final at Rogers Place on Monday.

The Oilers aim to rebound from a 3-1 loss in Dallas in Game 2 on Saturday. Edmonton won the opener of the best-of-7 series when Connor McDavid scored in double overtime for a 3-2 win.

Edmonton has yet to lose consecutive games in Stanley Cup Playoffs, rebounding for a win in each game following their four losses.

“We’ve done a terrific job responding to what’s happened,” Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch said Monday. “Obviously there is frustration in sporting events, whether it be over a bad play, but I really like the way our guys are able to put it behind them and just focus on the next game.”

Edmonton is 4-2 at home in the playoffs, but continuing their winning ways at Rogers Place won’t be an easy task against a Dallas team that is 5-1 on the road after tying for the NHL lead with 26 road wins during the regular season.

“I don’t know why,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “I just know our game translates well on the road. I think when you get a veteran team that isn’t intimidated by visiting rinks or the atmosphere, I just think there is a calmness to our leadership group which kind of bleeds into our entire group.”

Jake Oettinger said he embraces the hostile environments on the road such as the one the Stars will find themselves in for Games 3 and 4.

“It’s fun to experience these crowds at their best,” he said. “Obviously we play in all these buildings in the regular season, but the playoffs are more fun, especially in a building like this. Great Canadian fan base. These people love their team more than anything.”

Teams that take a 2-1 lead in a best-of-7 playoff series have gone on to win the series 69.1 percent of the time (386-173), including 76.6 percent of the time in the conference finals/semifinals (59-18).

Here are 3 keys for Game 3:

1. Matchup madness?

With the series shifting to Edmonton, the Oilers now have the advantage of the last change. With forward Adam Henrique drawing into the lineup in place of forward Ryan McLeod, Edmonton’s projected third line of Henrique between Warren Foegele and Derek Ryan will be expected to take some of the goal-scoring slack from the Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl lines.

Center Roope Hintz (upper body) will be a game-time decision. If he plays, it will give the Stars lines a significantly different look and bolster their depth.

“With a team like Dallas, what matchups are you looking for?” McDavid said. “They’ve got four lines and six defensemen that can range from the top unit to the fourth unit. We might get an extra shot in now and then, but their depth makes them a challenge.”

2. Avoiding the box

Of the four teams remaining in the playoffs, the Stars have the fewest penalty minutes (74). That is key for success when going up against an Oilers power play that has scored a playoff-leading 15 goals.

Through the first two games of the series, Dallas has been on twice as many power plays (six) as the Oilers (three). Knoblauch mentioned the discrepancy during his post-game press conference after Game 2.

The reality is, the Stars had the fewest penalty minutes of all NHL teams during the regular season (554). Their penchant for staying out of the box isn’t a fluke, and their ability to do it is the best way to minimize the effectiveness of the Oilers power play, which had scored at least one power-play goal in 10 of their 12 postseason games entering this series.

3. Home sweet home

Despite the Stars’ impressive road record during the postseason and regular season, Knoblauch said the focus remains on his team and its ability to feed off the energy that will be pulsating throughout Rogers Place.

“I don’t see a difference from the way they play at home to on the road,” Knoblauch said. “It’s all about the Oilers. What can we do to be better? What do we need to concentrate on? And enjoy being at home.”

Stars projected lineup

Jason Robertson — Tyler Seguin — Evgenii Dadonov

Mason Marchment — Matt Duchene — Joe Pavelski

Jamie Benn — Wyatt Johnston — Logan Stankoven

Ty Dellandrea — Sam Steel — Craig Smith

Tomas Harley — Miro Heiskanen

Esa Lindell — Chris Tanev

Ryan Suter — Alex Petrovic

Jake Oettinger

Scott Wedgwood

Scratched: Lian Bichsel, Mavrik Bourque, Radek Faksa, Nils Lundkvist, Matt Murray, Derrick Pouliot

Injured: Jani Hakanpaa (lower body), Roope Hintz (upper body)

Oilers projected lineup

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins — Connor McDavid — Zach Hyman

Dylan Holloway — Leon Draisaitl — Evander Kane

Warren Foegele — Adam Henrique — Derek Ryan

Mattias Janmark — Sam Carrick — Connor Brown

Mattias Ekholm — Evan Bouchard

Darnell Nurse — Vincent Desharnais

Brett Kulak — Cody Ceci

Stuart Skinner

Calvin Pickard

Scratched: Philip Broberg, Sam Gagner, Ryan McLeod, Corey Perry, Troy Stecher

Injured: None

Status report

Hintz, a forward, has missed the past four games and will be a game-time decision … Hakanpaa, a defenseman who has been out since March 16, did not travel with the team to Edmonton. … Henrique returns after missing the past seven games and eight of the past nine with a lower-body injury. He will replace McLeod.

Source link

Related Posts