‘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

Penticton city staff suggest 13 locations for election signs

A number of the locations eschew previous rules that barred signs on city-owned facilities

Talking music at Penticton’s Dream Café

Listen Up! to Holger Petersen

B.C. rep returns to South Okanagan to tour floods

Jennifer Rice, parliamentary secretary for emergency preparedness, was in the Penticton area Sunday

Violent crime rises 18 per cent in South Okanagan

But property crime in the first quarter of the year decreased by 14 per cent year over year

Your Penticton with Don Wrigglesworth

Find out why people in your community love Penticton

VIDEO: After the floods, comes the cleanup as Grand Forks rebuilds

Business owners in downtown wonder how long it will take for things to go back to normal

UPDATE: Woman dies in ocean accident near Tofino hours before daughter’s wedding

“We are so thankful to everyone who helped our mom.”

Olympian sues USA Swimming, saying it failed to protect her

Ariana Kukors Smith alleges her former coach Sean Hutchison began grooming her for sexual abuse at the age of 13

Defence minister thanks troops for B.C. flood relief work

Harjit Sajjan says not only was military response quick, support from locals has been ‘tremendous’

Couple survives being buried in mudslide on B.C. highway

The couple, from Saskatchewan, were en route to Nelson when a tree fell in their path

‘So grateful:’ Injured Bronco hockey player glad he’s alive, works on recovery

Ryan Straschnitzki was badly hurt in the accident: a spinal injury, broken ribs, a broken collar bone, and punctured lung

PHOTOS: Floodwaters rise and fall in Grand Forks

The flood-ravaged Kootenay-Boundary region begins to heal

Martin Mars waterbombers’ firefighting days are done

Wayne Coulson said his company still hopes to find a new home for the vintage aircraft

Most Read