Oilers Overcome Brutal Start to Beat Stars, Even NHL Western Conference Final

Oilers Overcome Brutal Start to Beat Stars, Even NHL Western Conference Final

Defenseman Evan Bouchard receives congratulations from teammates on the Edmonton Oilers' bench after scoring a goal against the Dallas Stars in Game 4 of the NHL Western Conference final in Edmonton, Canada, on May 29, 2024. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press via AP)

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

5/30/2024

Updated: 5/30/2024

0

EDMONTON, Canada—Kris Knoblauch thought he might be in for a long night.
The Edmonton Oilers coach was watching a confounding, uninspired, flat start unfold in front of him on the Rogers Place ice.
Trailing the Dallas Stars two games to one heading into Game 4 of the NHL’s Western Conference final, his team was down two goals, had yet to register a shot, and seemed like it might fade into the night midway through the first period Wednesday.
“Didn’t look very good,” Mr. Knoblauch said.
But in a series with wild momentum swings—Edmonton blew a two-goal lead before losing in Game 3—the home side was far from out of the game.
One good shift finally bled into another. The Oilers pushed back, tied the score before the period was out, and didn’t break when the Stars applied pressure. Now the teams are in a best-of-three for a Stanley Cup Final berth.
Mattias Janmark and Leon Draisaitl scored in a 51-second span of the second period and the Oilers beat the Stars 5–2 to even the series.
Game 5 is set for Friday night in Dallas.
“We were a little sleepy,” Draisaitl said about the slow start. “Found our legs, got going a little bit, started to play our game.”
Janmark tied it on a short-handed, 2-on-1 break with Connor Brown with 5:29 left in the period, and Draisaitl followed with his 10th goal of the postseason with 4:38 to go.
Ryan McLeod, Evan Bouchard, and Mattias Ekholm, into an empty net with 1:53 remaining, also scored for Edmonton. Connor McDavid added two assists, and goaltender Stuart Skinner made 20 saves.
“This isn’t supposed to be easy,” Stars Coach Pete DeBoer said.
Wyatt Johnson and Esa Lindell scored as Dallas raced to a 2–0 lead in the first 5 1/2 minutes. McLeod and Bouchard countered for Edmonton late in the period.
Skinner made a big stop on Evgenii Dadonov with the rink still buzzing after the tying burst.
Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner lunges to make a stick save against the Stars in Game 4 of the NHL Western Conference final in Edmonton, Canada, on May 29, 2024. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press via AP)

Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner lunges to make a stick save against the Stars in Game 4 of the NHL Western Conference final in Edmonton, Canada, on May 29, 2024. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press via AP)

The Stars got their second power play with eight minutes left in regulation, but the Oilers killed their 23rd straight penalty before Ekholm put it away with the empty-netter.
Dallas goalie Jake Oettinger stopped 24 shots.
Johnston scored his ninth goal of the playoffs just 58 seconds into the game when he snapped the puck past Skinner on the first shot of the night.
The crowd gave the Oilers a sarcastic cheer when Edmonton finally got its first shot more than eight minutes into the first period.
“It’s funny in the playoffs how the psychology works,” Janmark said about blown leads. “We were in the opposite position two days ago. It’s hard to explain.”
Edmonton made three lineup changes, inserting defenseman Philip Broberg along with McLeod and fellow forward Corey Perry for Vincent Desharnais, Warren Foegele, and Sam Carrick.
Standout Stars defenseman Chris Tanev left in the second period because of a lower-body injury. He didn’t return. Mr. DeBoer said he had “fingers crossed' that Tanev would be available for Game 5.
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