Western Conference Final, Game 3 – Avalanche lead 2-0
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Venue: Rogers Place, Edmonton, AB
Where to watch: TNT, SN
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: Avalanche -130, Oilers +110
BetMGM: Avalanche -125, Oilers +105
Caesars: Avalanche -130, Oilers +110
Al McMordie has reeled off a strong 20-8-0 run over the last month in the NHL. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are down to the Final Four. The last teams standing are high-octane, can score a lot of goals, and at least two of them have some great goaltending. Buckle up, it’s going to be a fun time to finish up. You need to be tuned in here to find out all the expert analysis. Catch Al’s plays available right now at the Shop Picks page, where you can find all of the Best Bets from our champion sports handicappers.
Avalanche - Oilers preview and analysis
I love how this series is drunk two games in. We went from high-scoring, high-octane ridiculousness that featured an injured goalie, to a complete misunderstanding in the world of hockey where a backup goalie pitched a shutout and the brilliant offense only had 24 shots against said backup.
Nevertheless, the Colorado Avalanche are up 2-0 in the Western Conference Final and the Edmonton Oilers are one loss away from being completely in major trouble. The series shifts to Edmonton for Game 3 on Saturday where the lines are, of course, altered a bit and not as widening as it was in the first two games.
But the star of the night was Pavel Francouz, making 24 saves in the place of the injured Darcy Kuemper, and did more than enough to play his part on home ice.
"I think I found out [I was starting] yesterday for sure," Francouz said. "I was kind of thinking that I'm going to play, already after the other game. But they told me I'm going to start [Wednesday] afternoon. "You were a little nervous and you have it in the back of your mind. It's a really important game.
"But what helped me was the way our team played tonight since [the] first seconds. I knew [they'd] help me a lot. That made me more calm and I could just focus on my play."
The first period was important for Francouz and his confidence. The score was 0-0 after one with the Colorado defense stifling Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Cale Makar turns out to be the kryptonite for McDavid. Speed on speed. Who would've thought?
"They found a way to break through. We didn't," McDavid said. "They've got good players, they've got good [defensemen]. We haven't had a ton of chances off the rush. We've got to find a way to create off the forecheck and off [offensive zone] play. They do a lot of good things, and we've got to find a way to figure them out."
Mike Smith did all he could to keep things afloat after the horrendous performance in Game 1, making 36 saves, but giving up the three goals in the second period was the straw that broke the camel's back. All of them came within a span of 2:04.
Artturi Lehkonen scored first, then Josh Manson, and then Nazem Kadri to give him four points in the series to this point.
Mikko Rantanen finished it off with a goal in the third, giving him two points on the night.
"I'm playing with some great players; it's not all me," Kadri said. "'Lehky' did a great job finding me a couple times. Mikko, I don't really have to say anything about him. He's an incredible player.
"We all know playoff hockey; once it gets to four or two teams, that's going to be a difference maker for sure. Everyone contributes, and it's definitely tough to keep up with."
It was a great day for that line of Rantanen-Kadri-Lehkonen. Kadri finished with three assists while his linemates did have two points.
"That's the line that got us started and kept it going in the second period, the Kadri line," Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. "He's a big part of that. They were making plays in the second period. They [capitalized] on a couple of chances, and they're the ones who built this lead."
I honestly thought this game was going to flip the other way. Francouz surprised me, but it'll be a completely different story in Edmonton. I'm at the edge of giving up on the Oilers because I want them to make this series competitive, and I'll go forward with Edmonton getting the win. They need a win, and that arena hasn't felt this kind of atmosphere in a while. If you ever needed to see the home crowd carry a team to win, Game 3 will be it. Oilers win 4-3
Avalanche are 29-10 after an under this season.
Avalanche are 59-20 off a home win the past three seasons.
Avalanche are 30-14 this season after a win by two goals or more.
Oilers are 4-5 in their last nine when trailing in a playoff series.
Oilers are 13-10 off a road loss this season.
Gabriel Landeskog -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Artturi Lehkonen
Valeri Nichushkin -- Nazem Kadri -- Mikko Rantanen
Andre Burakovsky -- J.T. Compher -- Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Logan O'Connor -- Darren Helm -- Andrew Cogliano
Devon Toews -- Cale Makar
Jack Johnson -- Josh Manson
Bowen Byram -- Erik Johnson
Evander Kane -- Connor McDavid -- Leon Draisaitl
Zach Hyman -- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- Jesse Puljujarvi
Warren Foegele -- Ryan McLeod -- Kailer Yamamoto
Josh Archibald -- Derek Ryan -- Zack Kassian
Darnell Nurse -- Cody Ceci
Duncan Keith -- Evan Bouchard
Brett Kulak -- Tyson Barrie
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