The Colorado Avalanche went up 2-0 in the NHL’s Western Conference Final with a decisive 4-0 victory over the Edmonton Oilers Thursday night.
“I think we’ve had some chances, not as much as we’d like,” Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft said after the game. “But we’re in the final four, the other team does some good stuff too, but we think there’s more to be had there. We can do a better job of shooting the puck and shooting through structure. Tonight, it didn’t go our way, but we’ll go back to the drawing board and we’re prepared to regroup and head home to friendly confines in Edmonton.”
The Oilers survived three Colorado power plays in the first period, including a two-man advantage that lasted for 1:32.
Oilers goaltender Mike Smith finished the session with 14 saves. Pavel Francouz, starting for the Avs in place of the injured Darcy Kuemper, turned away 13 pucks.
The Avs took control with three goals in 2:04 in the second period.
Artturi Lehkonen started it off by tipping Nazem Kadri’s shot past Smith. Only 15 seconds later, Josh Manson ripped home a slapper. Kadri set up Mikko Rantanen on a two-on-one to make it 3-0.
“Three goals in I don’t know how long, was it five minutes or whatever it was, obviously that changed the game; that five-minute lapse there,” Oilers forward Zack Hyman said. “I thought we were playing well to that point. The first bit that we played well had to do with penalties — killed them off. That should be a momentum builder for us and it was, and then we just had a five-minute lag there in the second and they got through there and shut it right down.”
Nathan MacKinnon scored a power-play goal in the third with Smith scrambling to put on his catching glove after it had been knocked off earlier in the play.
Oilers forward Kailer Yamamoto left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury.
“I thought a player was in a vulnerable position,” Woodcroft said. “I thought the angle of the check and the point of contact was the head. It’s not my call, I don’t referee the games. I’ve said this ad nauseam in the playoffs. My job’s to coach and not to make the calls. I’m sure the necessary people at the league will look at that hit.”
Francouz finished with 24 saves for his second career playoff shutout. Kadri had three assists.
Game 3 is Saturday at Rogers Place. You can listen to the game live on 630 CHED, beginning with The Faceoff Show at 4 p.m. local time. The actual game begins at 6 p.m.
“We’ve been a real solid home team for the last little while and we love playing in front of those fans and we’ll get ourselves back in the series at home here,” Oilers captain Connor McDavid said.