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HomeSportsHockeyNHL News: Oilers try to regroup in Game 2 vs. Canucks after...

NHL News: Oilers try to regroup in Game 2 vs. Canucks after blown lead

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Hockey fans are eager to see whether the Edmonton Oilers will bounce back or spiral away when they resume their Western Conference semifinal series against the host Vancouver Canucks in Game 2 on Friday.

After blowing a 4-1 lead en route to a 5-4 loss in the series opener on Wednesday, the Oilers have now dropped all five meetings with the Canucks, counting regular season and playoffs.

Regrouping and evening the best-of-seven playoff series before it shifts to Edmonton for the third and fourth clashes is job No. 1 for the Oilers.

“Up until 10 minutes left in the third, I thought we controlled the action,” Edmonton defenseman Mattias Ekholm said. “Sometimes that happens, that’s the emotional ups and downs of the playoffs, they get three quick ones and that’s the game right there. We can be encouraged by the way we played for the first 50 minutes.”

After staking their three-goal edge with a pair of goals 45 seconds apart, the Oilers managed only five shots on goal over the final 26:49, and only four during the third period.

“I don’t think you divide that game into the first half and the second half,” Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch said. “The first half we had a huge lead at 4-1, but do I think we were that much better than them? (Goaltender Stuart Skinner) made some pretty big saves … but five-on-five, I don’t think we were much better than them.

“In the second half, they obviously had a lot more goals than we did, but did I think they were that much better than us in the second half? No. Sometimes that’s the way it works.”

Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl, who missed eight minutes of the second period but finished the game, did not practice on Thursday. Knoblauch said Draisaitl is day-to-day.

The Canucks certainly had reason to bask in their victory. Nikita Zadorov delivered the tying goal at 13:47 of the third and Conor Garland had the game-winner 39 seconds later to cap a three-goal period.

However, preventing an early deficit that requires such an impressive comeback will be a huge focus when the Canucks hit the ice in front of their frenzied fans.

“It’s obviously a good feeling to come back, but we’re on earth again,” Vancouver coach Rick Tocchet said. “For me, in playoffs, you get back to earth as soon as possible.

“It was great, but we got a long way to go. The game (Friday) is huge. How do we correct some mistakes and how do we continue some of the stuff we did well?”

Vancouver does have plenty of aspects to build off. The Canucks were especially good at limiting scoring chances for the high-octane Oilers. Case in point is the fact that Edmonton captain Connor McDavid failed to register a shot on goal in a playoff game for the first time in his career. And when the puck was in Vancouver’s zone, the Canucks held strong, blocking pucks before they even reached the net.

Having those elements of the blueprint in place is a good building block for a team that received a huge confidence boost with the come-from-behind victory.

“I think that’s one of the good qualities of our team is that we know that we have depth, and we know that’s a strength that we need to use to our advantage,” said Canucks forward Dakota Joshua, who logged a goal and two assists on Wednesday.

–Field Level Media

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