EDMONTON â€” They may be young in playoff years, but the Edmonton Oilers already know what it takes to bounce back from a demoralizing loss in the post-season.
As they regroup from their 6-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, the Oilers point to a pair of wins after they were thumped 7-0 by the San Jose Sharks in the first round.
Those two victories propelled Edmonton to the Western Conference semifinal against the Ducks and marked the first time since 2006 the Oilers made the second round.
After going 2-0 in Anaheim to take the lead in the best-of-seven series, the Oilers were brought down to earth Sunday at Rogers Place. The Ducks scored 25 seconds into the game and led 3-0 by the 12-minute mark.
“We’ve got to recover here, just like we did in the San Jose series,” Edmonton head coach Todd McLellan said Monday outside the Oilers dressing room.
“We’re in the exact same spot although it feels a little more doom and gloom. I don’t know if that’s from the way we played or that’s the feel I get from the line of questioning that I’m answering.”
The Oilers got up off the mat to temporarily tie the game Sunday. NHL regular-season points leader Connor McDavid scored a pretty equalizer with his first goal of the series.
Edmonton couldn’t handle a second surge by the Ducks, however.
With a two-day break before Wednesday’s Game 4 at Rogers Place, the Ducks left town and headed for Kelowna, B.C.
“I don’t think they’re wrong in doing that,” McLellan said. “If we’re fortunate enough to go on, we may do something like that down the road.
“Oiler fans are pretty emotional, pretty rabid. They’re everywhere. They’re like ants, which is great for us.”
The Oilers didn’t get the rock-star goaltending from Cam Talbot on Sunday that they did in his 39-save performance in Game 2.
The Ducks scored twice on their first three shots of the game. Chris Wagner’s game-winner midway through the second period caught Talbot under the arm and deflected into the net.
“Obviously one Talbot would like to have back. By no means am I throwing darts at him. We wouldn’t be up 2-1 without him,” McLellan said.
“It deflates the team a little bit. It allowed (the Ducks) to get through to the end of the period, regroup and talk about things. Good, mature teams like they are, they gather their thoughts and come out and play the way the did in the third.”
And while McDavid’s goal was a show-stopper as he spun on a dime and rifled a shot over John Gibson’s far shoulder, the 20-year-old was also minus-2 in the game.
“One of the things he’s done a very good job of all season is understanding that without his offence on some given nights we still have the ability to win,” McLellan said.
“When he checks and puts himself in position to defend, he often ends up with many more chances. He like, everybody else, is learning. We’ll show him some of the video that he’ll be able to tell me about before I even get to it because he’s that sharp.”
The coach was more blunt when asked Sunday night about the post-season contributions of forward Jordan Eberle with the answer “not enough.” Eberle has two assists in nine playoff games.
The 26-year-old plays on the second line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Milan Lucic, but Eberle saw some time alongside McDavid on Sunday.
“He’s learning as he goes as well,” McLellan said of Eberle. “It’s great to be making strong plays on the board and checking well and that type of stuff, but you also have to find a way to contribute on the power play.”
Edmonton’s power play went 3-for-12 over the first three games of the series and could produce more with more execution in the faceoff circle. The Ducks have won 12 of 23 draws when short-handed.
“They do really go hand in hand,” McLellan said. “You get a chance to start 25 feet from their net. You lose a draw and all of a sudden it turns into 200 feet.”
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press