Game 1’s are always interesting in the playoffs, because two opponents get to really see each other for the first time, and then they get to react off of that.

In Game 1 on Thursday, the Edmonton Oilers played an intense, diligent game and came out with a 3-2 victory in double overtime. The Oilers had a 38-32 advantage in shots on goal and an 86-76 edge in shot attempts. However, Dallas had more quality scoring chances and won the battle of faceoffs, 44-35. The Stars also had five power play opportunities to just one for the Oilers.

But that advantage backfired, as Edmonton killed all five penalties, including a four-minute stretch to start the first overtime.

“Obviously, you’ve got to score on that double minor,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “That’s probably the game right there.”

DeBoer discusses Game 1 vs EDM after watching film.

Dallas has been fine in the playoffs at 25.0 percent success rate on the man advantage, but Edmonton has been phenomenal on the kill. The Oilers have killed 37 of 40 penalties for a 92.5 percent mark while shorthanded. Edmonton was 15th during the regular season at 79.5 percent, so they have found something that is working very well.

“Throughout the playoffs we’ve had a good rhythm on it, and I feel like it’s one of those things where you build momentum and you build confidence on the unit,” Edmonton defenseman Mattias Ekholm said on Thursday. “It’s almost like we have D-pairings and some forward pairings that have done it with some success and have confidence on it. With that said, they had one go off the post, so it’s not always going to work out the way you want, but the kill did a heck of a job tonight and killed off five penalties.”

But, the Stars adjusted in series wins over Vegas and Colorado, and they believe they will adjust again. The Stars actually started slowly in Game 1 and got better. Their best effort was in overtime, where they hit the post twice, including a Jason Robertson bomb that could have ended the game if it was an inch inside.

“It was a better power play,” said veteran Joe Pavelski. “Leading up to that point, the other ones weren’t as dangerous as they needed to be. But in that situation, it’s about production. It really is. We let one slide there. We were around it, but we weren’t able to get it across the line.”

Joe Pavelski speaks to the media after practice

And that is definitely needed if the Stars hope to advance. While they have been suffocating to others on the road, they don’t want to get down 0-2 before heading to Edmonton. They need to play a much better game on Saturday, whether that’s drawing more penalties or at least cashing in on the chances they get.

“I think one team kind of came into it with a Game 7 mindset . . . them. And I thought we looked like we had a five-day off mindset. There are thin margins, and we’ve got to get that fixed,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “That bled into our power play, too. We’ve got to get it fixed, both 5-on-5 and power play.”

The Stars have bounced back from getting behind in series for the past two postseasons, and they seem comfortable with that notion, but you still have to pick up your game.

“This time of the year, you kind of expect that,” said forward Tyler Seguin. “Two teams here in the West are here for a reason, so it’s going to be little inches out there, little bounces, so it’s going to be a fun opportunity, and we’ve got to win the next one at home.”

Tyler Seguin speaks to the media after Game 1

Key Numbers

Edmonton forward Zach Hyman leads the NHL in playoff goal scoring with 12. He also leads in shots on goal with 54.

Stars defenseman Chris Tanev leads the playoffs in blocked shots at 58.

77 percent
Edmonton won 77 percent of its faceoffs on the penalty kill. That was a huge reason it went 5-for-5. The Oilers won 36 percent of faceoffs at even strength.

He Said It

“I believe I have more to give. There are certain areas of my game that have been fine and good, and certain areas that need improvement. At the end of the day, there are no excuses for me that way. It’s about finding it and wanting it. You’ve got to push and get some reps in. It’s wanting more out there.”

- Stars forward Joe Pavelski, who skated in an optional workout Friday between Games 1 and 2. Pavelski has one goal and three assists in 14 playoff games this year.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.

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