Oilers to play Avalanche in Western Conference Final

The Edmonton Oilers are playing the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference Finals.

Edmonton defeated the Calgary Flames 5-4 in overtime in Game 5 on Thursday’s road to win the second-round best-of-7 series. The Oilers, ranked No. 2 in the Pacific Division, play Tuesday’s Game 1 at the Avalanche, ranked No. 1 in the Central Division. Colorado eliminated the St. Louis Blues with a 3-2 away win in Game 6 of the second round on Friday.

Connor McDavid scored the game-winning overtime goal in Game 5 and has 26 points (seven goals, 19 assists) in 12 playoff games. He is tied with his teammate for the NHL lead in points in the Stanley Cup Playoffs Leon Draisaitl (26 points; seven goals, 19 assists), who had four assists in the series finale. Evander Kane has 15 points and leads the postseason with 12 goals.

“Obviously they have two of the most dangerous players in the league right now,” said Colorado center Nathan MacKinnon. “Maybe three with Kane and a really deep team. In my opinion, their structure is underestimated. They play in Edmonton year-round and have a really tight structure with Jay there. So it’s a tough team to play against. They don’t give up very much and they are committed to both sides of the puck despite the narrative surrounding this team obviously that’s probably changing now but it’s really a tough team to play against.

“It’s going to be a whole team effort to take out these guys. We also have to stay out of the pits, but we’re confident. We believe we can do it against anyone if we do our best.”

mike smith is 8-3 with an average of 2.70 goals, .927 save percentage and two shutouts in 12 starts for Edmonton. He made 32 saves on 36 shots on Thursday. Michko Koskinen is 0-1 and allowed five goals on 37 shots in two relief games.

Edmonton was 1-0-2 against Colorado during the regular season, led by Kane with five points (four goals, one assist) and Kailer Yamamoto with four (two goals, two assists). McDavid had four assists and Draisaitl had two.

Smith was 1-0-1 with a 2.99 GAA and a .912 save percentage against the Avalanche. Koskinen allowed one goal on 34 shots in his only start, a 2–1 loss on penalties on 9 April.

“I would like to think that the coaching staff has done a good job with them so far,” said the Colorado defenseman Josh Manson, whose father Dave is an assistant coach with the Oilers. “It’s going to be a tough series. They play fast and have some big bodies. Obviously in these two guys they have quite a lot of skill up front. They’ve had a pretty good playoff so far. It’s going to be a big challenge for us, but we’re looking forward to it.”

MacKinnon led the Avalanche against the Oilers by five points (three goals, two assists) and Valery Nikhushkin had four (two goals, two assists). Kal Makar had three assists.

Darcy Kumper started every game and had a GAA of 2.62 and a save ratio of 0.921.

The Oilers have not made the third round of the postseason since 2006, when they lost to the Carolina Hurricanes in seven games in the Stanley Cup Finals. Edmonton has twice played Colorado in the playoffs, losing in five games in the 1997 Western Conference Semifinals and winning in seven games in the 1998 Conference Quarterfinals.

NHL.com contributor Tracey Myers contributed to this report

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