‘Naive’ Edmonton Oilers to play in their first Game 7 in over a decade

Oilers to play first Game 7 in over a decade

EDMONTON — A team with little experience or baggage in a Game 7 is about to face a team with a lot of both.

The Edmonton Oilers avoided elimination in Game 6 with a resounding 7-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks at home Sunday. Wednesday’s winner in Anaheim meets the Nashville Predators in the NHL’s Western Conference final.

Edmonton’s last Game 7 was 11 years ago, when the Oilers fell 3-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes in the deciding game of the Stanley Cup final.

Some Oilers such as Milan Lucic have played a Game 7 with other clubs, but haven’t experienced that pressure cooker with their current teammates.

The Ducks, by contrast, have played a Game 7 in each of the last four years and lost all of them at home.

So the Oilers may be light on Game 7 seasoning, but they’re also unburdened by Game 7 history.

“Sometimes it’s nice to be naive. Sometimes it’s nice to go in there and be stupid to it,” Oilers centre Mark Letestu said Monday. 

“Experiencing it for the first time, it’s exciting for everybody. We’re just going to out and play. We don’t really have anything to fall back on.”

It’s been an oddly high-scoring series with seven or more goals scored in all but one game. Goaltending has run hot and cold. Each team won twice in each other’s barn before getting a victory at home.

The Ducks had the momentum after a pair of comeback overtime wins for a 3-2 series lead, but they were completely dominated Sunday from the opening puck drop.

“Momentum in my opinion, you re-establish it every night,” Oilers head coach Todd McLellan said. “It doesn’t carry over from game to game.

“Each game is its own entity, has its own circumstance, takes on its own personality and we’ve really seen this in this series.”

“There’s been comebacks, ups and downs, momentum swings from period to period, shift to shift.”

Moving Leon Draisaitl off the wing of captain Connor McDavid to centre the second line between Lucic and Anton Slepyshev in Game 5 paid dividends in Game 6. Draisaitl scored a hat trick and assisted on two goals.

The move also allowed McLellan to get the big-bodied Lucic and Draisaitl up against up against Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf. He was held without a point Sunday after three goals and six assists in his previous two games.

The switch seemed to energize Lucic, who tied for the team lead in hits and assisted on two of Draisaitl’s goals.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle are still looking for their first goals of the playoffs. McDavid was held off the scoresheet in Game 6.

But Edmonton is getting secondary scoring from players such as Letestu, Slepyshev, Patrick Maroon, Zack Kassian and Drake Caggiula.

With Andrej Sekera (lower body) out for the series and the status of Oscar Klefbom (upper body) unclear for Wednesday, Edmonton’s young or little-used defencemen played bigger roles Sunday.

Matt Benning, 22, spent time quarterbacking the second power play unit.

“The biggest thing is the emotional side of things is heightened,” Benning said. “You need to play within your game. You can’t do anything that you’re not used to playing or anything like that.”

Eric Gryba, 29, and Griffin Reinhart, 23, made their series debuts in Game 6.

“Your adrenalin is definitely going,” Gryba said. “Every play is kind of max exertion and you don’t want to be getting caught not doing something not hard enough. It helps when the teams plays that well.”

Lucic is the most experienced player on both rosters in a Game 7 with nine previous appearances as a Boston Bruin. He’s also the most productive with four goals and two assists.

Getzlaf and Corey Perry have each gone the distance six times with the Ducks.

Anaheim forward Patrick Eaves has played a Game 7 seven times in his career, but Wednesday might not be No. 8 as he’s been scratched the last two games with an injury.

Both McLellan and Anaheim’s Randy Carlyle are 1-2 in their coaching careers in a Game 7. Experience helps, but McLellan said you can’t rely on it.

“We get to make our own history,” the Oilers coach said.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Northern Savings buys old Dairy Queen building

Old Prince Rupert DQ building has been vacant in since the 1990s

PHOTOS: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

Secondary project added to Terrace Aquatic Centre

The $131,000 vestibule renovation will not delay pool opening

Terrace and Thornhill school board trustee candidates: why they’re running

There are two open positions in Terrace, one in Thornhill

10 things still illegal in the new age of recreational cannabis

Pot is legal – but there are still a lot of rules, and breaking some could leave you in jail

Mellow opening to B.C.’s only legal pot shop

About five people lined up early for the opening of the BC Cannabis Store in Kamloops.

Cheaper strains sell out within minutes on online BC Cannabis Store

Province says new strains will become available in the coming months

Just 7% of Northern B.C. car dealerships have electric cars available: report

Researchers found buyers frustrated at the lack of options

VIDEO: Millionaire Lottery returns to give back and win big

Since 1996, Millionaire Lottery has raised $52 million for the VGH+UBC Hospital Foundation

Test case challenges a politician’s right to block people from Twitter account

3 people say Watson infringed their constitutional right to freedom of expression by blocking them

‘A little odd’ B.C.’s biggest city celebrates cannabis without a legal store

On the streets of downtown Vancouver, notably the Wild West of illegal marijuana, not a single legal store opened Wednesday, making for a rather anticlimatic kick-off

Puff, puff, pass: Cannabis is officially legal across Canada

B.C. has only one bricks-and-mortar marijuana store

After 50 years, ‘Sesame Street’ Big Bird puppeteer retiring

The puppeteer who has played Big Bird on “Sesame Street” is retiring after nearly 50 years on the show.

Britain, EU decide to take some time in getting Brexit right

Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said “we need much time, much more time and we continue to work in the next weeks.”

Most Read