Edmonton Oilers pushback changes Alberta battle landscape


They’ve scored four goals twice in two games, planting the seed deep in Calgary’s head that none of their leads will ever be sure.

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They turned the series into a best-of-five with the home ice advantage moving to Rogers Place.

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They have scored 13 goals (11 of which have been scored) against Calgary’s star goaltender in two games.

They scored four goals twice in two games, planting the seed deep in Calgary’s head that none of their leads will ever be safe.

They’ve made it very clear that the Flames don’t have an answer for Connor McDavid, mostly because there isn’t.

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After a 9-6 loss in Game 1 and an early 2-0 deficit in Game 2 made the Oilers look like they were in over their heads against Calgary, it suddenly looks like the advantage of Edmonton after Friday’s 5-3 comeback at the series square.

As The Office’s Michael Scott so eloquently put it when a corporate power struggle swung in his favor: “Well, well, how turntables.”

“We’re all happy with the separation in Calgary, especially after Game 1,” said Leon Draisaitl, whose breakaway goal chilled a game-changing Game 2 triumph. “We are very happy to come home with a split.

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“We had a good game on Friday and we still think we haven’t done our best yet. We are looking to do that on Sunday.

There’s no game-to-game momentum in the playoffs — the LA Kings have won two in a row after losing 6-0 and 8-2 — but fighting back to win Game 2 absolutely changes the energy of this series.

That takes the Oilers off the endangered species list (teams that are down 2-0 lose the series 80% of the time) and puts them on a par with the big bad Flames.

“After Game 1, we knew we had to be better,” said Edmonton defenseman Evan Bouchard, who is coming up in leaps and bounds in these playoffs.

“And we knew we were going to be better. I think it showed in Game 2. It’s a learning process. It’s a long streak, you play the same team over and over and things will change. We changed to match 2 and were rewarded.

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Edmonton’s ability to step off the canvas has created compelling theatre. They came from 6-2 down to tie it 6-6 in Game 1 and used another four-goal streak to turn a 3-1 deficit into a 5-3 on Friday.

Coming back like this, on the road, is an impressive show of post-season courage for a team that, prior to this season, hadn’t won a playoff round since 2017.

“I really liked our level of persistence in finding a way to win,” head coach Jay Woodcroft said. “It’s the way to find a way to win the time of year.

“We won a game on Friday night where we had two called up goals. And we found a way to win a game. How often does this happen? »

Not very. But, when a team never says quit and is led by a captain who can single-handedly take control of a game, that game is never over.

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“We have a lot of character in our group,” Draisaitl said. “We know we can score. We know we can get back into games.

They also have a knack for learning from their mistakes and being better the next time the puck drops, which is why they haven’t lost three straight games in regulation or overtime since mid-January.

“Game 1 was more about our level of competition and being ready to play, not getting pucks pushed away,” Draisaitl said. “It was something that was much better in Game 2 for us.”

Leading 3-1 in the second period at home and poised to take control of the series 2-0, the Flames know they let one get away. They are now face to face with an opponent who is improving as the game progresses.

“It was kind of like we invited them back,” Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson said. “Especially after our start to the game.”

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The Oilers are definitely back and loving every minute.

“It’s fun,” Draisaitl said. “It’s the Battle of Alberta. Both cities are very, very intense about it and who knows when it will happen again. It’s a great moment for both teams and for both cities.

The series lives up to the hype, which seemed almost impossible given the amount of hype. But, now that the Oilers have taken a stand, stolen home ice advantage and shown they can win this thing, it’s hard to imagine it won’t get even hotter.

For an Oilers team that spent an entire season overcoming adversity and silencing doubters, warmer suits them. They say they are ready for anything.

“At this time, you get to know each other,” Woodcroft said. “You discover people’s abilities in stressful situations. More importantly, you learn that we have the people who can do the job.

“If we work together and play towards a certain type of identity, we think we have what it takes.”

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