Oilers' mistakes allow powerhouse Avalanche to earn another convincing win

Pavel Francouz made 24 saves, and Nazem Kadri had three assists as the Colorado Avalanche blanked the Edmonton Oilers 4-0, and take a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Final.

EDMONTON — On the night that Calgary Flames curmudgeonly head coach Darryl Sutter was awarded the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year, we offer you this:

For the Edmonton Oilers, will this Western Conference Final simply be a waste of eight days?

“It’s a series, right? This is how it goes,” countered even-keeled winger Zach Hyman after a 4-0 loss Thursday. “There are momentum swings. It’s a rollercoaster. They defended home ice, so we have an opportunity to go back, feed off our crowd and get the momentum back.”

That’s tomorrow’s column.

Today, we’re still trying to figure out how the Avalanche pumped 12 goals past the Oilers netminders in two games, while limiting Edmonton’s superstars to far less possession time than they have enjoyed in any series thus far.

And the odd-man rushes? Whatever happened to those?

In a meeting that was billed as The McSeries — with Connor McDavid facing off against Colorado superstar Nathan MacKinnon — the Colorado freight train is the clear winner thus far.

MacKinnon had 11 shots on net to McDavid’s two in Game 2; MacKinnon had a goal, McDavid was pointless; MacKinnon brought the crowd to the edge of their chairs numerous times, and McDavid uncharacteristically did not.

“Probably haven't been at the top of my game here,” admitted McDavid.

Beneath their captain, the rest of this Oilers roster was simply the second-best lineup on the ice Thursday, shut out on a night when they mustered only 11 shots in the final 40 minutes.

Edmonton was gifted a backup goalie in Pavel Francouz, with Darcy Kuemper’s Game 1 injury holding him out, and they responded with only 24 shots on net and a paltry seven high danger scoring chances, per Natural Stat Trick.

It was a three-goal binge in 122 seconds of the second period that sunk the Oilers, a trend that has developed where Colorado either scores in bunches, or pots one within seconds of having been scored upon.

“They definitely feed off momentum,” said McDavid. “They find ways to compound one and turn it into three there. Obviously, it's on us to grab that. It seems likes shifts after goals — either for or against — have hurt us over the last couple of games. The shift after, they find a way to score right after.”

It takes almost the perfect game, doesn’t it? That’s how good this Colorado Avalanche team is.

You can’t cough up a puck, or blow a zone exit.

You can’t squander a powerplay chance, because the odds are, you won’t have the puck long enough to get more than one or two powerplays when the game is still in the balance (the powerplays favoured the Avs by a 7-2 margin). You can’t miss a chance to enter the O-zone, because the Avs turn a neutral zone turnover into a lightning-fast rush followed by 20 or 30 seconds of zone time — if you’re lucky.

Yes, Oilers fan, you can grouse about the mistakes your guys made in Game 2. But in reality, everyone commits miscues in this game of mistakes we Canadians call our own.

The difference is, now you’re committing those errors against an elite, elite opponent. One you surely can not outskate, which has been Edmonton’s path to this Final Four.

“We’re in the final four. The other team does good stuff too,” pleaded head coach Jay Woodcroft. “We think there’s more to be had there, we can do a better job of shooting the puck, shooting through structure. Tonight didn’t go our way, but we’ll go back to the drawing board and we’ll prepare to regroup and head home to friendly confines.”

Woodcroft opened the game with Leon Draisaitl back at centre and running his own line. It didn’t work, and by the end of the night No.’s 29 and 97 were back together, a swing and a miss by a coach just trying to push some buttons.

And really, it was that two-minute span that decided this game. Colorado was better, no doubt, but take away that burst and it’s down to the wire in a game that could have been had.

“They got two, they got three… And that's momentum,” said Oilers defenceman Tyson Barrie. “That's how this team rolls. We've got to do a better job at when they do get one, we've got to stop the bleeding. We can't compound and let it spiral out of control like that for a couple minutes that it did."

Some questionable line deployment by a rookie coach, who had the Ryan McLeod line on the ice when more experience was required, and a couple of bad reads by a defenceman (Nurse) playing more minutes than his injured core can handle, and this is what you get.

Nurse is struggling. Heroic, but struggling, on the ice for all three second-period goals.

“He’s giving us everything he has. Everything he has,” said Woodcroft. “He’s a true warrior.”

We’re down to must-win games now, for these Edmonton Oilers.

It’s time to see what they’ve got against a true Stanley Cup contender.

Or, as Sutter once said, it will be a waste of eight days.

When submitting content, please abide by our  submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.
We use cookies to improve your experience. Learn More or change your cookie preferences. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the use of cookies.