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Round 1

Oilers no strangers to adversity

Edmonton vows to learn from mistakes against Sharks entering Game 2

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / Staff Writer

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers waited 11 years to get back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Adversity waited all of 20 minutes to confront them in their Western Conference First Round series against the San Jose Sharks, sending Edmonton off track in a 3-2 overtime loss in Game 1 at Rogers Place on Wednesday.

The Oilers led 2-0 after the first period but the Sharks took the momentum from there, outshooting Edmonton 34-9 for the remainder of the game.

Game 2 is at Rogers Placeon Friday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, SN, NBCS CA).

"The experience questions that have come up about our team? We now have it," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said after a practice Thursday. "We have one game worth of experience and we learned a lesson. Good teams learn lessons and they become a better team the next night and that's what we're aiming for."

McLellan discarded the notion that the Oilers were fragile in Game 1.

"I don't think there's any fear of playing," he said. "Teams get fragile when they're afraid to lose. We've got nothing to lose. We're just going to go play and play hard."

The Oilers did that for a time early in Game 1 but had increasing difficulty with San Jose's effective forechecking when the game went on.

Video: SJS@EDM, Gm1: Karlsson snaps home OT winner

Other issues that hurt the Oilers in Game 1 were penalties -- the Sharks had the edge in power plays, 6-3, and power-play time, 11:58 to 4:38 -- and shifts that dragged on too long.

"Certainly the penalties were an issue," center Mark Letestu said. "You can't put your kill out there that often. You take a lot of guys out of the game. Then the workload for somebody like [Ryan Nugent-Hopkins] gets really high."

The Oilers have been better than average in dealing with adversity this season. That's how they accumulated 103 points and finished in second place in the Pacific Division.

"We've been through adversity a lot the last two years," Letestu said. "This group, particularly this year, we've always bounce back well.

"There's confidence in the room that we're going to play a good game tomorrow. I don't know if there's so much of a routine or a process to go through it but we came in here, watched some video, we flushed it and had a good skate and guys are feeling good so, again, our confidence is there that our effort is going to be much better."

Video: SJS@EDM, Gm1: Lucic buries a rebound for PPG

The Oilers have that confidence because they've been building it with a purpose, veteran left wing Milan Lucic said.

"I think those are the type of things you try to create as a group, bouncing back (from) adversity, speed bumps, things like that," said Lucic, whose 102 playoff games are the most on the Oilers. "We did a good job of handling our nerves in the first period but then I think a lesson that we learned is that during the season, sometimes you can get away with a 20-minute effort in getting two points whereas teams don't go away in the playoffs.

"That's where experience kind of comes in. It's things that you create during the season, that you have to bounce back to and now that most of the guys in here … have now had their first playoff experience, they know what to expect going into Game 2 and I think we have confidence that we're able to bounce back.

"We know it's not going to be easy, especially against a team that's been so close, especially last year. You saw that they were able to get their game going yesterday. It's about us trying to find the 60-minute game going into tomorrow night."

Video: SJS@EDM, Gm1: Klefbom sends a pass that redirects in

Lucic said the process of building and learning continues with the Oilers, even after the disappointment of Game 1.

"Yeah, it is different (in the playoffs), because everything is more magnified, every mistake and every breakdown can cost you," he said. "And it did [Wednesday] because they were able to apply their will and apply their pressure for the last two periods.

"That's where we need to re-learn how to win a game here in the playoffs."

Edmonton left wing Patrick Maroon is certain that Game 1 was no crisis for the Oilers.

"It's Game 1," Maroon said. "Our game didn't [fall apart] over one night. I'm not going sit here and tell you that. It's just one game. We're fine. We're in a great situation right now. We have a game Friday. This is all positive. We're all excited in here. This is good things right now. We can take the bad and learn from it. Now we move on to Game 2, then we learn from Game 2.

"We're learning. It's a good stepping stone for us. Guys are excited and upbeat and ready to play Game 2."

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