Oilers up to speed with Stars tv tonight

EDMONTON -- Leon Draisaitl said the Edmonton Oilers are up to the challenge presented by the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Final despite a speed game they didn’t see in the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“It’s a different team, they defend a little bit different, play a different style, but it’s nothing that we can’t handle as a group,” the Oilers forward said Tuesday. “I don’t think offensively, we have gotten to our game yet and that’s partly because they’re doing a good job, and partly us not finding it a little bit. Tomorrow is a good chance to grab that a little bit and get going.”

The Oilers will look to even the best-of-7 series in Game 4 at Rogers Place on Wednesday (8:30 p.m. ET; CBC, TVAS, SN, TNT, truTV, MAX) after losing Game 3 despite having an early 2-0 lead.

The Oilers’ first two opponents in this year’s playoffs -- the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks -- were big, heavy, physical teams who tried to knock the Oilers off the puck and make it difficult for their forwards to get to the net.

Dallas is a strong skating team with mobile defensemen who use active sticks and body positioning to defend.

“They’re just faster. They’re fast, they stretch the zone so it doesn’t seem like there is a ton of O-zone time on either side,” Oilers forward Zach Hyman said. “There are more rush opportunities both ways than in the previous series. They’re just faster.”

Edmonton has been able to match Dallas’ speed and has dominated play in stretches so far in the series. The Oilers, however, have yet to maintain that control though an entire game.

In Game 2 the Oilers outshot the Stars 16-4 in the first period and were tied 1-1 at the intermission on the way to a 3-1 loss. In Game 3, the Oilers gave up three goals in a span of 3:33 in the second period to lose their two-goal lead. They were able to tie the game before the third period, but eventually fell 5-3.

It made them 0-4 in this year’s playoffs when tied after two periods. The Oilers were 13-4-2 when tied after two periods in the regular season.

“We haven’t done a good enough job of being stubborn with [a lead] and closing out games,” Draisaitl said. “Obviously that’s a big part of our team and we’ve lost that a little bit lately, but it’s nothing that I’m too, too concerned with.”

Through the regular season, the Oilers felt they could be successful playing different styles of hockey.

Going into the series, Edmonton expected games to be played at a faster pace against Dallas than in the first two rounds. The Kings and Canucks were each good at cycling the puck in the offensive zone, while the Stars tend to attack on the rush.

“They stretch the rink, they trust their D to make a play and their forwards are almost at the far blue line it seems,” Hyman said. “They trust their D is going to rim it out or elude one guy and make a long stretch pass and then they try to get behind us and their D try to get ahead of the forwards coming back. They try to odd-man rush it, it’s a little different than the two teams we played previously.”

Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch said he expected the Stars to be a difficult opponent and has liked a number of aspects of his team’s game, but feel it needs to be better with the puck.

“I think they’re well-coached and have a lot of good hockey players right from the top to the bottom of the lineup, really no weakness and they’re really committed on playing the right way all the time,” Knoblauch said. “For us to get our opportunities we have to make a few plays. That being said, I think we’ve had our plays, we’ve had our opportunities, maybe we just need to bear down a little bit more on those scoring chances. I think there have been some missed nets, missed pass when they were almost there, but they do defend well.”

Going into Game 4, the Oilers are hoping to make life tougher on Stars goalie Jake Oettinger, who made 28 saves in each of the past two games. After scoring twice in the first 7:37 of the game, the Oilers were held to just one more goal, which came after they allowed three straight.

“I think we can definitely get more pucks to their net,” Oilers forward Evander Kane said. “If you look at the goals we scored, even going back to last night, they’re all kind of dirty, greasy goals, slings from bad angles that ended up going in and their goals are much the same.

“At the same time, they do a really good job of blocking shots getting in lanes and make it difficult to get pucks through at their net. But I think as a group, we can put a little more of a simpler focus in getting to the net and at the same time not giving them those Grade-A opportunities that we had specifically last night.”

Edmonton is also looking to break out on the power play. The Oilers are 0-for-5 in the series and 1-for-16 dating back to the series against the Canucks.

“Obviously we’re not getting the (number of) opportunities that we’d like, but that’s the way it is,” Draisaitl said. “Our power play needs to do a better job of creating momentum for our group and we haven’t done a very good job of that in the last three games in this series. We’ll look at some things tweak a couple of things and step up when we need it.”