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Mike Smith’s tough luck and other thoughts as Edmonton Oilers try to claw back against Winnipeg Jets

For the second time in franchise history, the Edmonton Oilers have lost the first two games of a playoff series on home ice.

The other time was in 1983 when the New York Islanders went on to sweep the Oilers in the Stanley Cup Final.

With Game 3 against the Jets coming up Sunday in Winnipeg, here are five things bouncing around in my brain:

1) Mike Smith is 11-15 in 27 playoff appearances, but he has an outstanding .930 save percentage. Sure, he’s had some rough outings, but he’s often had little in the way of goal support. This year, the Oilers have given him just one goal in two games against the Jets. Other times, he’s wound up facing a barrage of shots. Playing for Calgary two years ago, he faced 56 shots against the Avalanche in a 6-2 loss.

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Read more: Edmonton Oilers in big hole after OT loss to Jets in Game 2

2) With Dominik Kahun only playing 8:43 Friday night, could Tyler Ennis replace him in Game 3? Ennis’ nine points in 30 regular-season games aren’t eye-popping, but he’s an intelligent player with 22 post-season games under his belt. He might help Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Kailer Yamamoto keep plays alive.

3) Connor Hellebuyck is the star of the series so far, and it’s not close. The Jets are checking well but the Oilers have still had more high-danger chances than the Jets. The website Natural Stat Trick has the high-danger chances in the series at 32-19 for Edmonton.

“We’ve had some opportunities that we haven’t gotten much out of because our execution hasn’t been good enough,” said head coach Dave Tippett.

“There are times in the game where if our execution was a little sharper, I think we could create a little more. That being said, the games are tight. Both teams are playing tight-checking games.”

Read more: Edmonton Oilers denied by Hellebuyck in Game 1 loss to Winnipeg Jets

4) The Jets weren’t happy to be down two men in the third period of a tied playoff game, but the hit from behind that Logan Stanley delivered on Ethan Bear should be called every time. There shouldn’t be any tolerance for a player taking a shove in the back when he’s close to the boards.

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On Wednesday, Carolina’s Jordan Martinook shoved Nashville’s Matt Benning face-first into the boards. Instead of calling what should be an obvious penalty, the refs absurdly told Benning he took a dive.

5) The Oilers have now played three 1-0 overtime games in the playoffs. Ryan Smyth had the winner against Dallas in 1997. The next season, Benoit Hogue of the Stars returned the favour.

Game 3 between the Oilers and Jets goes at 5:30 p.m. Sunday. The Face-off Show on 630 CHED starts at 3:30 p.m.

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