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HomeSportsHockeyNHL News: Oilers aim to cash in on chances in Game 2...

NHL News: Oilers aim to cash in on chances in Game 2 vs. Panthers

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The Edmonton Oilers are concentrating more on the process than the result as they prepare for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday in Sunrise, Fla.

After being blanked 3-0 by goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and the Panthers in Saturday’s best-of-seven series opener, despite outshooting and out-chancing their hosts by a wide margin, the Oilers are doing all they can to avoid any frustration from their best effort not being good enough in Game 1.

“It’s encouraging in some ways the way that we played,” forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said. “You want to stack up as many wins as you can as early as you can in the series, but it’s a best-of-seven, a race to four. We did a lot of good things, couldn’t find a way to beat them, but we can stay confident.”

The Panthers, who are in their second consecutive final after losing to the Vegas Golden Knights last year, have plenty of experience dealing with the extreme scrutiny and focus of the championship round.

The Oilers only have a couple of players who have gone this far, thus the focus on keeping with the program and the game plan.

“I thought we didn’t look out of sorts at all,” said Oilers defenseman Mattias Ekholm, who is in his second finals series. “I thought we took it to them, had a really good start. I really liked the way we started the game and it blended into the next 40. That part of things was really good. Hopefully nerves are out of play now.

“Our best is good enough (to win),” Ekholm added. “That’s something the whole room is feeling, as well. It’s a matter of getting there every night, that’s the hard part of it. We were close last night and I think we have another level, but I’m encouraged.”

The Panthers, who are in search of the franchise’s first championship, hold a lead in the finals for the first time in their third trip.

As much as the Panthers expect an even better effort from the Oilers on Monday, they also expect better of themselves despite having won via shutout to open a second consecutive series.

After all, the Panthers were outshot by a 32-18 margin during the game — 12-4 in the opening frame — and were saved by a brilliant performance from Bobrovsky. Florida’s goalie has surrendered two or fewer goals in 11 of his last 12 games.

“What can you learn from the game is the most important thing,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said. “Where can you get better? You want to temper all of that when you sit down and watch your video because the other team gets paid, too. That’s some pretty good players over there.”

That said, the Panthers did gain momentum though the game, and they’re ready to build upon that as well.

“Our third period was definitely our best, for sure,” captain Aleksander Barkov said. “I know it was 2-0 for us, but we still tried to play in our zone and kept building on that. It was good after the first two periods that we played a good third.”

Florida will need to elevate even more from that point against an Oilers team that knows they can ill afford to return home to Edmonton for the third and fourth games of the series in a 2-0 deficit.

“Well, we know we need to get better than what we were yesterday and we need to keep building because Edmonton is an unbelievable team,” Barkov said. “They have so much skill in their lineup. It’s going to be tough, for sure.”

–Field Level Media

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