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Oilers aren't short of heroes

Defenseman Adam Larsson, forward Mark Letestu latest to shine in Game 1 win against Ducks

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / NHL.com Staff Writer

ANAHEIM -- Edmonton Oilers coach Todd McLellan assessed the Stanley Cup Playoffs with one short sentence on what was a quirky night at Honda Center on Wednesday.

"When you run out of heroes, usually you're out," McLellan said.

The Oilers hoarded the heroes in Game 1 of Western Conference Second Round, defeating the Anaheim Ducks by a 5-3 score.

Not one hero. Not two. But three.

 

[RELATED: Complete Ducks vs. Oilers series coverage | Leon Draisaitl has memorable night for Oilers

 

There was Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl, continuing his path of destruction against the Ducks with four points, scoring one goal and three assists. Including the regular season, he has 12 points (seven goals and five assists) in six games against the Ducks.

The other two were more surprising: forward Mark Letestu and his two power-play goals, and defenseman Adam Larsson and his two goals and assist. They were Larsson's first playoff goals since his lone previous playoff goal, back in 2012 with the New Jersey Devils.

"It's nice to see him get rewarded because he wears a lot of ice bags for the way he plays," Letestu said. "He leads our team in hits. He gets a lot of blocks."

Video: EDM@ANA, Gm1: Larsson banks in second goal for lead

Of Letestu's 16 goals during the regular season, 11 were scored on the power play. The key to his success is simple.

"Just the willingness to shoot the puck," he said. "We've got a lot of guys on that power play, they're playmakers. Connor [McDavid] and Leon, especially. Pass-first guys. I know when the puck comes to me, deliver it, get it to the net. It's been going in."

The Ducks essentially held McDavid in check; McDavid had one assist and didn't have a shot on goal until the third period.

But McLellan will tell you that a deep, multi-pronged attack is what the Oilers are going to need to continue this playoff run.

"I think it's essential," he said. "You don't, at least I believe, just win on just one superstar. You can go back and talk about how Chicago did it. Or Pittsburgh or Los Angeles, those years.

"It wasn't just done on [Jonathan] Toews, [Anze] Kopitar and [Sidney] Crosby back. It was deep. It was timely.

"Letestu has done it for us on the power play all year. He's very nifty and crafty and finds pucks and to have [Larsson] score two. We've found different heroes so far in the playoffs on any given night. That's the way it is done."

Video: EDM@ANA, Gm1: Letestu finishes rebound for second PPG

Larsson was not rushing to embrace the hero status.

"I wouldn't say that," he said. "It's nice to get two goals, for sure."

He was more animated when the subject of the trade came up, the bold deal between the Oilers and New Jersey Devils that sent forward Taylor Hall to New Jersey for Larsson on June 29.

"Oh, here we go again," Larsson said. "Since Day One, I haven't thought about that. Obviously there's a lot of talk in media, but I can't do anything about that. It's out of my reach. It's always going to be comparisons about that."

McLellan said, "We've been asked that question an awful lot, the trade and how it affected people. We needed to improve our blue line. We needed to have an anchor back there, and Larsson has become that. We could have kept floundering without fixing that hole."

The Ducks gave Larsson plenty of time and space on his first goal at 8:03 of the third period, and he scored his second, the game-winner, when the puck went in off the skate of Ducks defenseman Josh Manson at 15:20 of the third.

Video: EDM@ANA, Gm1: Larsson snaps home quick wrister

Defensemen rarely get the kind of open ice Larsson was given on his first goal.

"He's definitely not Bobby Orr, but tonight he sure looked good on that last one skating," McLellan said. "He has the ability and the skill to do it."

Larsson certainly didn't have to rush.

"I had so much time," he said. "I had time to pick my corner. Sometimes it's probably better to just shoot it and put it on net than overthink it."

Letestu was asked if there were any other playoff heroes waiting to step up. The Oilers keep on producing them, yet the second round just got underway.

"Hopefully we've got enough games to find some more," he said. "There's more here."

Video: EDM@ANA, Gm1: Letestu buries a rebound for PPG

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