Skip to main content

Headlines

column

Oilers feel better effort is needed in Game 3 against Ducks

Despite leading series 2-0, Edmonton will look for more intensity at home after struggling to win Friday

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

ANAHEIM -- Despite leading the best-of-7 series 2-0, the Edmonton Oilers feel they can do better in Game 3 of the Western Conference Second Round against the Anaheim Ducks at Rogers Place on Sunday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, SN).

Edmonton won Game 2 2-1 at Anaheim on Friday but was outshot 40-23. Goalie Cam Talbot made 39 saves.

 

[RELATED: Talbot, Oilers hang on for Game 2 win | Complete Ducks-Oilers series coverage]

 

"Fortunately for us, [Talbot] was able to step up and get us a huge win [Friday], and as players, we need to bounce back heading into Game 3," left wing Milan Lucic said before the Oilers traveled back to Edmonton.

Oilers coach Todd McLellan said he sees multiple areas that need improvement.

"[Our game] is going to have to be significantly elevated," McLellan said. "I thought we were on our heels for a lot of the second half of [Game 2].

"The overall intensity has to go up, battles for pucks, 10-foot races, competitive situations. The good news is we had a great goaltending performance and were able to win the game. Now we have some things to work on."

Video: EDM@ANA, Gm2: McLellan discusses Talbot's heroics

Defenseman Oscar Klefbom said there will be danger ahead if the Oilers repeat their Game 2 performance.

"The way we played wasn't the way we wanted," Klefbom said. "They outshot us a ton. If we play like this in Edmonton, it's going to be tough."

A 2-0 lead seems to create some nerves, and the Oilers are no exception.

"[2-0] seems to be a dangerous number for anybody that's competed in the playoffs this year, score-wise, series-wise," McLellan said. "We had an opportunity to get up mid-series against [the San Jose Sharks] and obviously didn't perform very well, but it wasn't 2-0. I thought there were a few details and characteristics that slipped into last night's effort that we saw in the 7-0 loss (to San Jose in Game 4 of the first round)."

Lucic and McLellan have been in similar spots in the past, when the left wing was playing for the Boston Bruins and the coach was with the Sharks. 

"[In Boston], we were up 3-0 against the Flyers and we ended up losing in Game 7 (in the Eastern Conference Second Round in 2010)," he said. "And I know even Todd was up 3-0 against the [Los Angeles] Kings in 2014 and they ended up losing in Game 7 (of the first round) as well. No lead is comfortable, especially in a game against a team like this with some really high-end players, a team with a lot of pride and they have a coach that's really experienced and players that are really experienced. We can't take any situation lightly.

"Myself and the coaching staff, who have been a part of the losing end of historic comebacks, it's easy to pass those messages along."

Video: EDM@ANA, Gm2: Talbot shines with 39 saves in win

One issue in this series that is troubling the Oilers less is the play of top-line center and captain Connor McDavid.

McDavid, who led the NHL with 100 points (30 goals, 70 assists) in 82 games during the regular season, has five points (two goals, three assists) in his first eight Stanley Cup Playoff games.

The 20-year-old has one assist in the first two games against the Ducks, often facing the close attention of Anaheim center Ryan Kesler.

"You knew it was going to be a part of their game plan," Lucic said. "Every team's game plan against us is definitely shutting [McDavid] down. That's where the rest of us need to pick up our game.

"Sometimes, [the shadowing] may be a little over the top. He's the type of guy that's not going to get frustrated and he's a good enough player that he'll find a way to break through."

Video: EDM@ANA, Gm2: Gibson denies McDavid's quick rush

Lucic was asked about the last time he'd seen shadowing become over the top.

"It's funny; I don't know if I have an answer for you because I've never played with a guy like Connor or had anyone shadow a guy or seen that before in my experiences through the playoffs," Lucic said. "I think the last time something like this has happened was in 2001 when [New Jersey Devils forward] Jay Pandolfo was following [Pittsburgh Penguins forward] Jaromir Jagr around in the [Eastern Conference Final]. 

"We just have to make sure everyone's buying in and contributing at some point because with them marking him, we know he's got the ability to find a way to break through and we believe he can and that he will. He's been a good leader and done a good job so far of not getting frustrated."

McLellan said Saturday that McDavid is having an impact.

"He's the leader of a team that has two wins [in the series]," McLellan said. "He's drawn numerous penalties throughout the series and we've only played two games. He has taxed the other team's checking forwards and put their [defensemen] under stress. He's opened up ice for his teammates, who have taken advantage of it for the most part.

"And his will to fight through it rubs off on our group throughout the lineup. I think he's doing a very good job at dealing with playoffs, dealing with the checking and probably the biggest blanket he has is all of you guys. He's dealing well with it.

"He's adapting to it, adjusting to it. He's figuring out ways."

View More