The teams exchanged goals 36 seconds apart before the game was six minutes old. Oilers forward Evander Kane took a pass from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and scored on a breakaway. J.T. Compher replied on a two-on-one for the Avalanche.
Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon scored on a breakaway before Edmonton’s Zach Hyman tapped in a pass from Brett Kulak with 22 seconds left in the first.
But it took Makar only nine seconds to put the Avs back in front. The Oilers challenged for offside as Avalanche forward Valeri Nichushkin hadn’t exited the zone as Makar brought the puck in. However, the NHL ruled Makar didn’t touch the puck in the Oilers’ zone until Nichushkin tagged up. The goal stood and the Oilers were slapped with a delay-of-game penalty.
“We felt that the player had control of the puck and didn’t know there was an offside player,” Oilers had coach Jay Woodcroft said after the game. “We thought it was the right move to challenge that call. It didn’t go our way — that stuff happens.
“You’ve got to live with it and move on.”
Colorado’s Nazem Kadri scored on the ensuing power play in the first minute of the second.
Ryan McLeod replied for the Oilers, but Mikko Rantanen and Compher came back with quick goals to make it 6-3 Colorado with 13:40 left in the second.
Mike Smith was pulled from the Oilers’ net after allowing six goals on 25 shots.
“When you’re on the bench halfway through the game, it’s not a good sign,” Smith said. “Saying that, it’s one game.
“We’ve been in this position before, so you park it and move on. It’s a long series.”
Late in the second, Avalanche forward Andrew Cogliano beat Oilers netminder Mikko Koskinen to make it 7-3.
Edmonton captain Connor McDavid one-timed a pass from Leon Draisaitl to cut the lead to 7-4 with 3:09 to go in the second.
The Oilers didn’t go away in the third. Derek Ryan potted his first of the playoffs before the session was four minutes old.
With 7:24 left, Nugent-Hopkins scored on the power play. The Oilers kept the pressure on and pulled Koskinen with two minutes left. Colorado forward Gabriel Landeskog put it away with an empty-netter.
“We obviously have to change something”, Draisaitl said after the game.
“We can’t be giving up that many goals and expect to win a Western Conference finals game. That’s the second time this has happened. We’ve got to make sure we’re ready… off the bat.”
Avs starting goalie Darcy Kuemper left the game in the second with an upper-body injury. Pavel Francouz replaced him and stopped 18 of 21 shots.
Koskinen stopped 20 of 21 in relief of Smith. McDavid had a goal and two assists.
Game 2 is Thursday. You can listen to the game live on 630 CHED beginning with The Faceoff Show at 4 p.m. local time. The actual game starts at 6 p.m.
–With files from James Dunn, 630 CHED