CALGARY, AB - Just one more win to advance.
One more victory for the Edmonton Oilers over their rivals the Calgary Flames in Game 5 of their second-round Battle of Alberta series will book their ticket to the Western Conference Finals, and the focus in the Orange & Blue camp remains solely on the simple aspect of putting their best game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs forward on Thursday night at Scotiabank Saddledome.
The Oilers boarded a short flight south to Calgary on Wednesday afternoon after showing resiliency to respond to the Flames equalizing Game 4 after being up three goals on an unorthodox clearance that saw Rasmus Andersson airmail the tying goal into Edmonton's net after the puck wasn't picked up in Mike Smith's sights.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored the game-winner late in the game to hand the Oilers a 3-1 series advantage heading back to Calgary.
"I don't even think we can think that far ahead," forward Zach Hyman said. "We flush last game, we won, and now we just move on and get ready to play what I think needs to be our best game of the series. Obviously they're going to be desperate and we need to match that desperation."
Video: RAW | Derek Ryan 05.25.22
Matching Calgary's desperation in an elimination scenario will come from Edmonton's own motivations for closing out the series on the road.
"We don't want to go back to our barn," forward Derek Ryan said from the team hotel. "We want to end their season tomorrow, so that's our desperation level. I don't think it's an on and off switch -- you can't just be drifting and hoping it happens tomorrow. We have to be desperate from the start and play one good game."
The players in the Oilers dressing room understand from experience what to expect from the Flames in their home arena on Thursday night having been in a similar situation down 3-2 in their first-round series with the Los Angeles Kings, knowing the onus will be on themselves to eliminate their rivals.
"I think any team that has their back against the wall and facing an elimination game, it's hard to beat the team and knock them out. I think we're expecting their best version. I think that's to be expected and that's what we're prepared for.
It's really hard to knock a team out, so I think you have to get excited for that opportunity and you just take everything one game at a time."
Video: RAW | Zach Hyman 05.25.22
Overcoming adversity in the first round and in Game 4 on Tuesday night helped the Oilers better understand their own ability and identity. Further, it sets the expectation for what Calgary is going to throw at them with their post-season lives on the line.
"We have a strong belief in who we are," Head Coach Jay Woodcroft said. "I think in Game 6 last series, we played towards our identity. We played fast, we played simple, we got off to a good start, and we carried that game into Game 7 as well. I think that goes back to that belief in being wholly sure of ourselves.
"What it does is allows us to understand the mindset required for success tomorrow. We're here to win a game, we're here to play our best game of the series."
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