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Oilers keep positive attitude despite blowing three-goal lead in Game 1


The Edmonton Oilers kept a positive attitude postgame after blowing a 4-1 lead in their Game 1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday.

The Oilers lost the opening game of their second-round series 5-4 after allowing four unanswered goals, with the Canucks taking over with three goals in a five-minute stretch to take the lead in the third period. Edmonton was held to just four shots in the final frame after scoring four goals on 14 shots in the first two periods.

Head coach Kris Knoblauch argued that the two teams were evenly matched throughout, with the goals swinging in different directions at different times.

“I don’t think you divide that game into the first half and the second half,” Knoblauch said. “The first half we had a huge lead at 4-1, but do I think we were that much better than them? [Stuart Skinner] made some pretty big saves. You think about the breakaway, then we had a power play and scored a goal, but 5-on-5, I don’t think we were much better than them.

“In the second half, they obviously had a lot more goals than we did, but did I think they were that much better than us in the second half? No. Sometimes that’s the way it works.”

The Oilers appeared to be pulling away with Cody Ceci and Zach Hyman scoring just 45 seconds apart in the second period to put the Oilers up 4-1. Elias Lindholm cut the deficit to two goals before the end of the second frame and the Canucks later took over at roughly the halfway point of the third, reigniting their home crowd with the offensive explosion. 

“I think it was more the timing of the goals. We know it’s going to be a great atmosphere in here, and it’s going to be that for us at home as well,” Oilers defenceman Mattias Ekholm said. “It’s just tough when they get the go-ahead goal with four minutes left. That’s kind of when you have to throw a Hail Mary at them.

"I thought we tried, I thought we battled at the end, but it didn’t work out for us. We have to learn from the mistakes we did in the last 10 minutes, but I’m really encouraged by the way we played the first 50.”

Oilers captain and Hart Trophy finalist Connor McDavid was held without a shot for the first time since March 21 and just the third time this season. He finished with an assist in the loss, but wondered after if the Oilers were burned by taking their foot off the gas pedal. 

“They’re a good team and they were doing everything they could to come back and we were doing everything we could to hold on to the lead,” McDavid said. “That happens in the playoffs, you try to hold on to a lead and sometimes you’re maybe a little too passive.

"I thought we were doing a good job of holding on to the lead, but they find a way to get two and find a way to get a third to win.”

Wednesday marked the first road loss of the postseason for Edmonton, who swept both games at the Staples Center against the Los Angeles Kings in the first round. It also dropped the Oilers to 0-5 this season against the Canucks, who swept the four meetings in the regular season. 

Game 2 of the series will take place Friday in Vancouver before the series shifts to Edmonton for Game 3 on Sunday.