Oilers Maintain their Composure Despite Trailing the Canucks by Three Goals in the First Game

When it came to how they let up a three-goal lead in Wednesday night’s 5-4 defeat to the Vancouver Canucks in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals, the Edmonton Oilers had plenty of answers to queries.

Particularly after the Oilers’ most recent defeat brought their record against the Canucks in both the regular season and the postseason to 0-5. The Oilers held true to their performance in Game 1 and the reason the series is far from over after one game, despite questions about what went wrong.

Goalie Stuart Skinner of the Oilers stated, “I thought we gave them this one, and I think we know that it’s going to be a long series.” “That’s how the playoffs are — you got to win four in order to keep it going. They’re up one right now, and we know that we can beat these guys. They beat us five games this year, but that gives us a lot of fire for ourselves to try to come back and get back in the series right away.”

Zach Hyman and Mattias Ekholm both scored once in the first period to give Edmonton a 2-0 lead. Dakota Joshua’s goal 53 seconds into the second period gave the Canucks a half-time lead, but with 6:49 left in the second, Cody Ceci and Hyman extended the margin to 4-1.

How, then, did the Oilers go from commanding a comfortable lead to finally losing it?

With 2:59 remaining in the second, Canucks center Elias Lindholm was at the goal line when he flipped a puck on net that looked to have been deflected as it snuck past Skinner, making the score 4-2.

A little more than ten minutes remained in the third period when J.T. Miller of the Canucks played a pass that allowed the puck to go off his stick and past Skinner, cutting the margin to 4-3.

With 6:13 remaining, Canucks forward Teddy Blueger played a back pass to Nikita Zadorov, and the big defenceman beat Skinner with a slap shot to square the game at 4-4. This happened four minutes later.

Then followed the goal that made Rogers Arena go from a quiet library to an unbelievably noisy arena as the Canucks completed the comeback.

Zadorov had just finished a faceoff in Vancouver’s zone when he played Joshua an outlet pass from behind the net. With 5:35 left, he held the puck for less than two seconds at center ice, allowing Conor Garland to fake a shot and then take a real one a second later that went past Skinner for a 5-4 lead.

Garland’s goal highlighted the Canucks’ ability to outshoot the Oilers 19-7 in the second and third periods, despite their struggles to establish a rhythm.

“It’s something we’ll have to learn from a little bit,” Ekholm stated. “When they score, it’s all about that next shift. They’re going to score. It’s not like we’re going to keep them to nothing. At the end of the day, we let them get three goals and put ourselves in a tough spot. Up until that point, we were in a really great spot, but we kind of gave it away, so that’s the disappointing part.”

Ekholm also expressed his belief that the Canucks’ goals were not the result of an Oilers system malfunction. Based on Natural Stat Trick’s stats, the Canucks had a shooting share of 42.1% in the third period but only had one high-danger opportunity in 5-on-5 action.

Connor McDavid, the talented center and captain of the Oilers, shared that idea.

“I thought they were strange goals all around,” McDavid remarked. “We’ve scored some strange ones, too. In kind of a frantic game, you’re going to get that. Definitely some weird ones, some preventable ones, too. Overall, I didn’t mind our game.”

Coach Kris Knoblauch of the Oilers claimed that his team was a little too subdued.

Did Knoblauch, however, concur with his players that the technique was effective despite not producing the expected outcomes?

Knoblauch stated, “There’s always things you can adjust,” “There’s going to be mistakes. … The players have to read and react. I thought they were in pretty good positions, and we didn’t have any major breakdowns.”