Facing elimination in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Edmonton Oilers erupted for a playoff-high seven goals in a 7-1 win over Anaheim on Sunday to even the Western Conference semis at 3-3. Edmonton led 5-0 after the first period, with Leon Draisaitl finishing with five points (three goals, two assists).
Game 7 is Wednesday in Anaheim.
“The longer you go in the playoffs, you certainly start to realize that it’s a grueling marathon – not a sprint,” SportsNet NHL analyst Louie DeBrusk said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I think for the talented young players now in the league – especially a Connor McDavid, a Leon Draisaitl – these guys have played at a high level their whole lives and they’ve elevated in the most difficult of times. So they understand what’s going to be in front of them and what they’re going to be going up against each and every night.”
The Oilers won the first two games of this series before dropping three in a row. Sunday was do-or-die for Edmonton, and the Oilers easily could have folded. Instead, they refused to let their season end – remarkable given that their two best players, Draisaitl and McDavid, are 21 and 20, respectively.
“Everyone talks a lot about experience in the playoffs, and I do think it does come in handy and it certainly does help, there’s no question,” DeBrusk said. “But there’s something to be said for a young team that’s experiencing things for the first time. There’s that youthful energy, as I like to call it. It can work against you in the form of nerves and bad plays, but it can also help you with the emotion of a game and having that energy when maybe an older team gets a little bit tired. I think we saw that in Round 1 with Edmonton and San Jose. I think (the Oilers) were the more energetic team at the end of that series.”
Edmonton beat San Jose in six games, winning Games 5 and 6 to advance to the conference semis. The Ducks will present a major challenge in Game 7, but don’t expect Edmonton to fold. The Oilers are 2-1 in Anaheim this series, with the one loss coming in overtime.
“I expect it to be a battle in Game 7,” DeBrusk said, “but I think this young team is figuring it out very quickly.”