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Round 2

Oilers no strangers to playoff adversity

Edmonton has won following each loss this postseason, hopes trend continues in Game 4 against Ducks

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / Staff Writer

EDMONTON -- Discarding weak performances and responding strongly has been one of the best characteristics of the Edmonton Oilers all season.

The Oilers hope that will continue in Game 4 of the Western Conference Second against the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports). Edmonton leads the best-of-7 series 2-1, but was defeated by Anaheim 6-3 in Game 3 on Sunday.

"We have to find ways to bounce back again," Oilers left wing Patrick Maroon said. "We've been a good bounce-back team all year. This is a good time to do that in Game 4."

Prior to Game 3, the Oilers had lost two games in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Each came in the first round against San Jose and each time, Edmonton won the next game, and eventually the series, 4-2.

In Game 3 against the Ducks, the Oilers trailed 3-0 after the first 11:51. They tied it at 3-3, but the Ducks surged again and won going away.

"It's just structure, easy fixes I think," Maroon said. "For us, we just have to continue what we're doing. We can't really stress on what happened last night or what happened in Game 2 (2-1 Oilers win in which they were outshot 40-23). We just have to find ways to play our game now. We have to play with the confidence we played with all year."

In the first round against the Sharks, the Oilers led the series 2-1 and lost Game 4, 7-0.

"We're in the exact same spot, although it feels a little more like doom and gloom, I don't know if that's from the way we played or that's the feel I get from the line of questioning I'm answering, but we're in the exact same spot we were against San Jose (up 2-1 in series) and we answered that (by losing 7-0) so we may even be in a better spot," coach Todd McLellan said. "We've got to respond."

The 7-0 loss was a painful lesson but Edmonton won the next game, 4-3 in overtime.

"You have to learn from past experiences," left wing Drake Caggiula said. "That 7-0 game was definitely not a game you want to remember but there are a lot of things you can take away from it to provide some insight for upcoming games. We learned a lot of lessons then. We learned some lessons last night."

McLellan credited the Ducks with a strong Game 3 and said he's already looking ahead to Game 4, insisting the Oilers will rely on the experience they are gaining.

"It's called the playoffs and the other team gets in the way sometimes," McLellan said. "We've got to limit the amount of mistakes that we make. We've got to be prepared to start again. We're learning lessons as we go. We've talked a lot about that. We've got to recover here, just like we did in the San Jose series."

The seriousness of the present situation for the Oilers was illustrated by McLellan switching lines after falling behind 3-0 in the first period of Game 3.

He moved captain Connor McDavid to play with wings Milan Lucic and Jordan Eberle. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins played with Patrick Maroon and Leon Draisaitl.

Video: ANA@EDM, Gm3: McDavid snipes in top-shelf beauty

McLellan employed stable combinations during the second half of the season and playoffs. When he has made adjustments, he has rarely tinkered with the combination of Nugent-Hopkins, Lucic and Eberle that had become an effective, go-to, two-way line for the Oilers.

McLellan pointed out that he had changed that Nugent-Hopkins line for a time recently, but that happened when the Oilers were down 5-0 in the 7-0 loss against San Jose.

"You can kind of match those two reasons together," McLellan said. "We were down 3-0 10 minutes into (Game 3 on Sunday) and it wasn't going well so at that point, you start to scramble a little bit, try to jolt some players. So that is why we mixed those lines up at that point."

McLellan didn't tip his hand on what the combinations would be for Game 4.

"It's about getting the next win," he said. "So we'll move players around in a motivational way. Yes, we'll do that. We're looking for responses probably from three or four different guys and if we can get those, we'll be in good shape."

For all the things the Oilers didn't like about their game Sunday, their flaws will lead them to the solutions needed, McLellan said.

"We spent all morning already breaking the game down in a number of different areas," he said. "There are some themes, some patterns that have shown up in Game 2 and into Game 3. Faceoffs being one of them (Anaheim has won 119 of 200 faceoffs in the series). Areas we'll try to improve on. It's our job to try to help the players. We're not just going to throw the video out and say, 'See you later.'

"They'll come tomorrow (for practice). There will be a number of different gatherings. There will be some chatter with some different lines and pairings, adjustments made. But we can't overcook it and overreact to it, either, because then you get the guys all clammed up and not playing freely."

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