Heading into Game 5 of their second-round Western Conference playoff series with the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday night in Las Vegas, the Edmonton Oilers will attempt to do something neither team has been able to do in their best-of-seven series.
Put together back-to-back wins.
It’s been a zig-zag of results for the two teams so far. After Vegas won the opener 6-4, the Oilers responded with a 5-1 win in Game 2. The Golden Knights then bounced back with an impressive 5-1 victory at Edmonton on Monday before the Oilers rebounded for a dominating 4-1 home win Wednesday to even the series 2-2.
“We have to put two together here,” Oilers forward Connor McDavid said. “We have to follow it up. Someone has to do it two nights in a row. It’s got to be us.”
Regardless of which team wins Friday, they will have to do it without one of their best defensemen.
The Department of Player Safety on Thursday announced Darnell Nurse had been automatically suspended for one game and Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft fined $10,000 after Nurse picked up instigator and misconduct penalties for his fight with Nic Hague with 50 seconds remaining at the end of Wednesday’s contest.
Shortly afterward, the department also suspended Vegas defenseman Alex Pietrangelo for one game following his vicious two-handed slash on the left arm of Oilers star forward Leon Draisaitl late in Game 4.
The good news for Edmonton is that Draisaitl said he is okay and will play Friday. Draisaitl, who went down face-first on the ice after the chop, leads the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 18 points and 13 goals.
“Yeah, it was ugly,” Draisaitl said before boarding a flight for Las Vegas on Thursday. “That’s a really dangerous slash, you know? I think those are things that have nothing to do with hockey or the game. You can seriously injure someone with a slash like that.”
Draisaitl was asked if it was crucial for the Oilers to be handle to their emotions heading into a crucial Game 5.
“I’m going to continue to play hard,” he said. “I’m not going to do anything stupid about it. I’m going to be smart about it. I’m going to continue to play hard and finish my checks and be physical, but I’ve moved on.”
Vegas fell behind 3-0 in the first period on Wednesday and captain Mark Stone said it’s important for the Golden Knights not to dig themselves another big hole in Game 5.
“We’ve got to find a way to get a better start,” Stone said. “We’ll regroup. Done it in the past. We’ve got to be ready.”
Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy was asked why there has been such a wide swing in scores.
“I think it’s urgency levels,” Cassidy said. “The team that lost the previous game seems to have more urgency.
“We put ourselves in a bad spot early (Wednesday). A couple of things we talked about against, specifically, Edmonton: managing the puck, staying out of the (penalty) box. And we didn’t do either of those in the first period well enough.”
McDavid said he expects to get the Golden Knights’ best shot on Friday.
“It’s always disappointing when you lose in the playoffs,” McDavid said. “It feels not very good. I expect them to play a really good Game 5, and I expect us to bring our best, too.”
–Field Level Media