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Oilers await first-round opponent on final day of season

Connor McDavid Edmonton Oilers Connor McDavid - The Canadian Press

The Edmonton Oilers will have home-ice advantage in their first-round playoff series, but their opponent remains to be determined.

Entering the final day of the regular season, the Oilers have two potential opponents left in the Vegas Golden Knights and Los Angeles Kings.

Vegas, the reigning Stanley Cup champions, hold a one-point advantage over the Kings for third in the Pacific and the right to face the Oilers. The Golden Knights will clinch a trip to Edmonton with a win Thursday over the Anaheim Ducks or a Kings loss in regulation to the Chicago Blackhawks. The Kings hold the regulation wins tiebreaker over the Golden Knights and will move into the final spot if the two teams finished tied in points. 

Whichever team fails to claim third in the Pacific will finish in the second the final wild-card spot, setting up a matchup with the Dallas Stars.

The Oilers went 2-1 against the Golden Knights this season, including a 5-4 shootout win as part of an eight-game winning streak in November. Edmonton was eliminated by Vegas in the second round of the playoffs last spring in the first-ever postseason series between the two teams.

The Kings were eliminated by the Oilers in the first round of the playoff last season in six games. The Oilers went 3-1 against the Kings this season, including a shootout win on Dec. 30.

The Oilers lost 5-2 against the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday with head coach Kris Knoblauch acknowledging that the team's focus has likely moved past the regular season.

“We’re looking forward to the playoffs and I think the guys’ hearts were in it, we executed okay,” Knoblauch said. “I don't think there were core players throwing the pucks away or not working hard, it just wasn’t total engagement.”

The Oilers visit the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday but cannot improve their standing, with the Vancouver Canucks having already clinched first place in the Pacific Division. The Canucks will face the Nashville Predators, who have secured the top wild-card spot, in the first round.