Stars try to stay alive, Oilers aim to punch Stanley Cup Finals ticket

League: NHL

Posted on: 01 Jun, 2024 at 09:16 PM

Credit: Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Admittedly, the Dallas Stars have not played well enough the past two games, and that is why they are one loss away from elimination at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers heading into Sunday's clash.

It remains to be seen whether the Stars, who trail the best-of-seven Western Conference final 3-2, can find the necessary form when the series resumes in Edmonton.

"At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter what has happened up to this point," said Dallas forward Wyatt Johnston, who scored his team's lone goal in Friday's 3-1 loss. "They've done a good job these last two games and I don't think we've done our best, but all that matters is that we're ready to go next game."

Certainly the Stars have reason for optimism, despite how greatly they have been outplayed in the past two clashes. For starters, they have won six of eight road games during the playoffs. As well, goaltender Jake Oettinger has been the backbone away from Big D, having posted a 1.71 goals-against average and .947 save percentage during those road clashes.

"We've been in this situation before. We've had a Game 7 already," forward Matt Duchene said. "This team we're playing had the same situation we're going into. We're never out of it, we have a great hockey team and a lot of character in it. There'll be no quit.

"We haven't had our best other than probably Game 3 this series, but the nice thing is we're still in this series and just gotta win one at a time here."

Edmonton, which trailed 2-0 in Game 4 before roaring back to win that game 5-2 and completely changing the momentum in the series, last reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2006.

As much as the Oilers will be looking to repeat their performance over the past five-plus periods, a huge task will be to keep their emotions in check. The rabid fanbase in Edmonton will certainly provide plenty of energy prior to puck drop.

"We're a confident group," stated forward Zach Hyman. "Even when we started the season poorly, we were still a confident group and still believed in our team and believed in our goal. There's nothing to be excited about right now. There's still work to do."

If any team knows how drastically a series can change at this juncture, it is the Oilers. They trailed 3-2 in their second-round series with the Vancouver Canucks and were on the ropes, but recovered in time to avoid elimination and were able to springboard to the conference final.

"I think deep down we all knew how good we could be once we find our confidence, once we get going," forward Leon Draisaitl said.

"We have a goal tomorrow night and that's just to play our best game. We know they're gonna bring their best game so we've got to make sure we're ready."

Certainly the Oilers have the blueprint necessary, showing both their top-tier offensive skills and an ability to defend en route to the consecutive victories that put them in this position.

"I think we're confident in how we need to play, and not getting too far ahead of ourselves," Edmonton coach Kris Knoblauch said. "We are playing a very good team that's gonna have a lot to say about how that game's going to be played. They'll be making corrections, they'll be fired up, that we're have to be prepared for. But for our team playing the way we need to play, I have a lot of confidence."'

--Field Level Media