EDMONTON, AB - Back from Orange County with a 2-0 series lead over the Anaheim Ducks, the Oilers return to a revved-up Oil Country and lively Rogers Place for Game 3 on Sunday.
Despite getting outshot 40-23 in Game 2, the Oil earned the victory thanks to some superb goaltending by Cam Talbot. The team is aware that this is a critical match that will likely see the Ducks play hard, desperate hockey.
"I don't think our overall game was where we wanted it to be last game, that's no secret," said Talbot. "We have to come out here and play a much more disciplined game against a team that's going to bring their best game of the series and they're going to be extremely desperate tonight."
Game 2 saw the Oilers win only 36 percent of their faceoffs and dish 13 giveaways. They did, however, score a power-play goal to finish the night 1-for-4 on the man advantage, eventually taking the game 2-1 to return home with the series lead.
"That was our goal going down to Anaheim and we accomplished that," said Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who has two assists in eight playoff games. "Now coming back home, it's going to be a lot of fun to see the atmosphere in this building and to see how much energy the fans have tonight."
The Oil have played well as hosts lately, winning their last nine regular season home games. The team also defeated the San Jose Sharks twice at Rogers Place in Round 1. They did so in Game 2 - a 2-0 victory - and Game 5 when David Desharnais scored the 4-3 overtime winner.
"From the last 10 games at home in the regular season, we really established ourselves for the playoffs and want to keep that going," said Nugent-Hopkins.
Per Elias Sports Bureau, teams that go up 2-0 on the road in a best-of-seven Stanley Cup Playoffs series own an all-time record of 69-18, which comes out to a success rate of about 79.3 percent. The Oilers are aware of the damage they can do by winning Game 3.
"A 3-0 series is a lot different than a 2-1 series," said Connor McDavid. "It's definitely a big game tonight."
KEEPING THE CREASE CLEAR
Jakob Silfverberg's goal at 15:34 of the second period on the man advantage in Game 2 went through a maze of bodies to beat Talbot. Patrick Eaves' screen also played a big part in hindering the goaltender's ability to see the puck. It's a facet of the game the Ducks want to maintain but Talbot believes the defence in front of him have been doing a great job of keeping the crease clear of rebounds and opposing players.
"I think that was one of the best things we did last game," said Talbot. "We gave up a lot of shot volume but everything from the outside, for the most part, I was able to see and track it. It's a lot easier to control those rebounds and not give up those second chances when I can see those pucks."
The Oilers netminder sports a 2.02 goals-against average, a .934 save percentage and two shutouts in the post-season. While he's been playing stellar himself, Talbot is quick to compliment his teammates.
"The guys did a good job of tying up sticks and getting bodies out of my way last time so I could focus on that first shot," he said.
Conversely, The Oilers are conscious of that component and want to improve their efforts after the goaltending display Talbot demonstrated Friday.
"He definitely held us in the game at times," said Nugent-Hopkins. "All year he's been really steady and gives us confidence. At the same time, we want to be definitely better for him tonight and put a little more pressure on their goalie.
"They did a good job of putting pucks on net and getting second and third chances from that. That's something that we can keep improving on."
Although they didn't skate this morning, the expectation is that there will be no changes to the Oilers lineup. Drake Caggiula would be the only wildcard, after he left the ice last game.
As for the Ducks, Head Coach Randy Carlyle did say that anything is on the table for his team, meaning he could shuffle some of his lines up in an effort to upstart the offence.
Klefbom - Larsson Sekera - Russell Nurse - Benning
-- Paul Gazzola, edmontonoilers.com
OILERS (6-2) at DUCKS (4-2)
TV: 5:00 p.m. MDT; Televised on Sportsnet
It's been three playoff games since the Oilers last played on Rogers Place ice and what a successful three playoff games they were.
In Game 6 at San Jose, the Oilers disposed of the Sharks at SAP Center 3-1 to win their best-of-seven quarterfinal series four games to two.
Then the Oilers went south to Anaheim and faced the Ducks in a pair of games, winning 5-3 this past Wednesday and on Friday night they prevailed 2-1.
Oilers fans have enjoyed every second of the playoff action and now get a chance to let the team know how much things have ramped up since Game 5 last round at Rogers Place.
OILERS KEYS TO SUCCESS:
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF HOME ICE: Anaheim was not a great road team this season with a record of 17-15-9 but now they have their backs against the wall. Oilers need to continue their strong play on home ice.
MORE SHOTS: The Oilers only had 18 shots on goal in Game 2. Afterwards, several players and Coach McLellan all said that more attempts at the net could and should have been made.
CAM TALBOT: If the Oilers don't take advantage of the above keys #1 and #2, they still have a chance to win much like they did on Friday night, if Cam Talbot stands on his head.
Edmonton:Tyler Pitlick is out for the season with a lower-body injury; Drake Caggiula left Game 2 with an injury but is probable to play tonight.
Anaheim: Kevin Bieksa is out for Game 3 while Sami Vatanen is questionable.
Teams which win the first two games of a series on the road have a 69-18 record all-time among NHL best-of-seven series.
When leading a best-of-seven series two games to none, the Oilers have a series record of 14-0 and a Game 3 record of 9-5.
When trailing a best-of-seven series two games to none, the Ducks have a series record of 0-7 and a Game 3 record of 4-3. The Ducks have come back to force a Game 7 three different times -- twice when losing the first two at home.
Goaltender Cam Talbot saved 39 of 40 shots for a .975 save percentage in Game 2, improving his playoff save percentage to .934; Talbot has a 6-2-0 record. He leads or shares the lead in the Stanley Cup playoffs for wins (6), minutes played (474), shutouts (2), and ranks second in saves (225).
"I keep using the word 'growing up.' We're learning how to bend but not break. Teams that have success and go on good runs do that. Like I said last night, it's not always a bed of roses. Sometimes you play games that don't go your way and a new hero arises and you find a way to win. You can go on any successful run in the playoffs and you have probably more than one of those games. Last night was one of them. The hero of that night was Cam. This gives us an opportunity to regroup now and get back to our building where we know the energy will be high." -- Oilers head coach Todd McLellan.
Oilers lead best-of-seven series 2-0
Apr 26:Edmonton 5 at Anaheim 3 Apr 28:Edmonton 2 at Anaheim 1 Apr 30: Anaheim at Edmonton - 5:00 p.m. MDT May 3: Anaheim at Edmonton - 8:00 p.m. MDT May 5: Edmonton at Anaheim - 8:30 p.m. MDT May 7: Anaheim at Edmonton - TBD May 10: Edmonton at Anaheim - TBD
Edmonton won the season series this year 3-2-0
Nov 15: Edmonton 1 at Anaheim 4 Dec 3: Anaheim 2 at Edmonton 3 (OT) Jan 25:Edmonton 4 at Anaheim 0 Mar 22: Edmonton 3 at Anaheim 4 Apr 1: Anaheim 2 at Edmonton 3 (OT)
In 2006, Edmonton defeated Anaheim 4 games to 1 in the only playoff match-up ever between the two teams
May 19:Edmonton 3 at Anaheim 1 May 21:Edmonton 3 at Anaheim 1 May 23: Anaheim 4 at Edmonton 5 May 25:Anaheim 6 at Edmonton 3 May 27:Edmonton 2 at Anaheim 1