NHL Avalanche outlast Oilers for 8-6 win in Game 1 of West finals

The Colorado Avalanche survived a wild Game 1 reminiscent of the Wayne Gretzky era, beating the Edmonton Oilers 8-6 in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals on Tuesday night in Denver.

However, Colorado’s starting goaltender didn’t last the night and may not be available for Game 2 on Thursday night.

Darcy Kuemper left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury and didn’t return. When asked if Kuemper could play Thursday, Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said, “We’ll see.”

Pavel Francouz stopped 18 of 21 shots in relief of Kuemper, who allowed three goals on 16 shots.

The Avalanche got two goals from J.T. Compher and Cale Makar had a goal and two assists to lead the offensive barrage Tuesday night.

“We need four (wins), we got one,” Colorado center Nathan MacKinnon said. “There’s a lot of work to do.”

MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen had a goal and assist each, Nazem Kadri and Andrew Cogliano also scored and Devon Toews had two assists for Colorado, which built a 7-3 lead but had to hold on for the win.

Connor McDavid had a goal and two assists, Evander Kane and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a goal and an assist each, and Derek Ryan, Zach Hyman and Ryan McLeod also scored for the Oilers. Leon Draisaitl contributed two assists.

“That’s not how you win hockey games at this time of the year,” Draisaitl said. “Regroup, adjust a couple of things and we’ll be better.”

Edmonton’s Mikko Koskinen turned aside 20 of 21 shots in relief of Mike Smith, who yielded six goals in 25 shots.

“When you’re on the bench halfway through the game, it’s not a good sign,” Smith said. “It’s one game. We’ve been in this position before. You park it. It’s a long series.”

Kane gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead at 5:04 of the first period, his 13th goal of the postseason, and the Avalanche answered 36 seconds later on Compher’s first goal of the night.

MacKinnon put Colorado ahead 2-1 at 15:10, his ninth goal of the playoffs.

Hyman tied it for the Oilers at 19:37, his ninth of the postseason, as he matched the franchise record by scoring a goal in a sixth consecutive playoff game.

Makar scored just nine seconds later. Edmonton challenged the goal for offside, but the goal was upheld, giving the Avalanche a power play thanks to the failed challenge.

“You’ve got to live with it and move on,” Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said. “We made the decision to do it and we felt and still feel the player had control of the puck.”

On the man advantage, Kadri scored 32 seconds into the second period to make it 4-2.

McLeod got the Oilers within a goal when he knocked in a rebound at 2:59 of the second, but Rantanen’s slapshot at 4:38 made it 5-3.

Compher’s deflection at 6:20 made it 6-3, prompting the Oilers to send in Koskinen for Smith.

Cogliano scored at 16:20 of the second period for a 7-3 edge, but McDavid scored his eighth of the playoffs just 31 seconds later.

Ryan cut the deficit to 7-5 at 3:28 of the third period, and Nugent-Hopkins got Edmonton within one with a power-play goal at 12:36.

Koskinen came off for an extra skater with 1:53 left, and Landeskog scored into an empty net with 21.4 seconds remaining.

–Field Level Media

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