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Home ice now in Edmonton's favour

by Staff Writer / Edmonton Oilers
Ryan Smyth: "We're the loudest, no question."
by Marc Ciampa

At the conclusion of Monday's game in San Jose, Sharks head coach Ron Wilson remarked on the boisterous home crowd.

"I've never heard a crowd that loud," noted Wilson.

Well, he hasn't heard anything yet.

The last time playoff hockey was held at Rexall Place, 16,839 fans blew the roof off the building after Ales Hemsky scored with just over a minute left to clinch the Detroit series four games to two.

"San Jose's pretty good but we're the loudest no question," said Ryan Smyth prior to tonight's game.

The Sharks certainly took advantage of their home crowd in Game 1 and 2, playing a very physical style.

"We think it's going to be a big advantage," Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish remarked about having the home crowd behind them. "We know it was a good advantage for them in Game 1. Their fans are a very vocal group as well. It's a great hockey building, the fans are on top of the action as they are here.

"Adrenalin plays a big part for providing energy for physical play and I think it's going to help us tonight."

The Oilers may be down 2-0 right now but the one thing they have going for them is that they haven't lost at home yet. If you can avoid losing at home, at the very least you're guaranteed a chance to take the series down to a Game 7 in their building with one shot to pull it out.

Edmonton is not panicking. They know one win and they're back in this series.

"We feel good," said defenceman Steve Staios. "I know it doesn't look that good from the outside right now but we feel good. We're coming home, we're going to play a strong game at home."

Staios also made note that as well as the Sharks played in the first two games, they only pulled out one-goal victories in each of those affairs. And there won't be much difference between the teams on the ice in San Jose and the two sides that will clash tonight in Edmonton.

"The crowd is the biggest difference. Once we're on the ice it's the same game, same teams going at it," he said.

The Oilers believe that have what it takes to turn this series around on home ice because they have already experienced the "home ice advantage" in round one.

When Fernando Pisani scored early in the third period of Game 6 to make it a 2-1 game, there wasn't a fan in the building who doubted for a minute that the Oilers could come all the way back. When Detroit then made it 3-2 late in the third, the crowd continued to provide the team energy and willed them to victory.

"San Jose's got a great crowd but I don't think there's anywhere in the league that compares to Edmonton," mentioned Staios. "For anyone that hasn't seen it, they'll see it tonight."
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