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Oilers, down 2-0, seek to jump-start power play

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Published in Hockey
Wednesday, 12 June 2024 14:05

EDMONTON -- Connor McDavid, the leading scorer in the NHL playoffs, doesn't have a goal for the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Final. The power play he orchestrates, the most dominant in the league, hasn't generated a goal either.

The Florida Panthers have built a 2-0 series lead with their defense, but McDavid is confident the Oilers can break through against them in a critical Game 3 on Thursday night in Edmonton.

"We usually solve penalty kills," McDavid said. " And I would expect we'll figure this one out too."

Edmonton's offense is fueled by its power play, which clicked at better than 37% through three rounds of the postseason. It went 0-for-3 in Game 1 but generated good chances, as Florida goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made six shorthanded saves. The Panthers' PK improved in Game 2 -- as did almost every other facet of their game -- as Edmonton went 0-for-4 and generated just one shot on goal with the man advantage.

In four games against the Panthers this season, including two in the regular season, the Oilers are 0-for-12 on the power play.

"They're challenging the puck," McDavid said. "They're jumping wherever your next play is going. You see wherever the puck goes, they're ready to jump on that."

The Oilers star said his team needs to have a little more "road hockey" approach to the power play in order to break that defense.

"It's got to be a little bit more of like a 5-on-5 mentality. It's not going to be as structured as a power play, but just using instinct," McDavid said. "We call it 'playing road hockey.' We've got to be elite at that."

The Oilers have generated only one goal in the first two games in the Final -- an odd-man-rush shot from defenseman Mattias Ekholm in Game 2 that beat Bobrovsky. The Panthers relied on their star goalie to win Game 1 but were much better defensively overall in Game 2, limiting Edmonton to 19 shots.

"I think they're playing really well," said McDavid, who has 32 points in 20 games this posteason. "They're playing aggressive, in your face. With that being said, when there are mistakes, there's chances.

"A team as aggressive as they are, they do a great job of limiting your chances and then there's one mistake and you can find yourself in a 'Grade A' really fast. You have to be ready for that. You gotta bury it."

The Oilers enter Game 3 on Thursday night expecting some lineup changes.

Coach Kris Knoblauch said it's quite likely veteran forward Corey Perry draws back in, having last played in Game 1. Knoblauch wouldn't confirm that struggling winger Evander Kane could be out of Game 3.

Kane is playing through a sports hernia and has just one assist in his past nine playoff games. He was a minus-3 in Game 2.

One player who will be in the lineup for Game 3: defenseman Darnell Nurse, who was injured in Game 2 on a first-period hit by Evan Rodrigues. Nurse was sent to the trainers' room, but he returned to the bench in the second period and played just three shifts the rest of the game.

"With the time off and everything that we need to do, I have no issues. He'll be ready to play," Knoblauch said.

The biggest lineup news ahead of Game 3 happened Tuesday, when the NHL decided not to suspend center Leon Draisaitl for his hit to the head on Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov, who was a full participant in Wednesday's practice.

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