Sports

3 Keys: Avalanche at Oilers, Game 4 of Western Conference Final

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Avalanche (1C) at Oilers (2P)

8 pm ET; TNT, CBC, SN, TVAS

Colorado leads best-of-7 series 3-0

The Colorado Avalanche can advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2001 with a win against the Edmonton Oilers in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final at Rogers Place on Monday.

“It’s definitely a mentality you have to have to try to close out a series,” Avalanche defenseman Jack Johnson said. “It’s always the hardest one to win. Each series kind of takes on a life of its own. It’s a different challenge each series. We’re just trying to stay focused and keep playing the same way and try to get better each game and every night because it’s going to get tougher every night. “

[RELATED: Complete Avalanche vs. Oilers series coverage]

Colorado swept the Nashville Predators in the first round, winning 5-3 in Game 4. With a chance to eliminate the St. Louis Blues in Game 5 of the second round, the Avalanche lost 5-4 in overtime before winning 3-2 in Game 6.

The Oilers face elimination for the third time in the playoffs. They won Games 6 and 7 in the first round against the Los Angeles Kings.

Edmonton will play without Evander Kane. The forward was suspended one game by the NHL Department of Player Safety for boarding Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri 1:06 into Game 3.

Kadri is out for the series with an upper-body injury. Kane leads the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 13 goals in 15 games.

“We’ve done it all season; it’s the next-man-up mentality,” Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl said. “We have enough great players on our roster who can fill in and come in with energy and do a great job. I’m not too worried.”

Teams that lead a best-of-7 series 3-0 are 198-4 in NHL history, 2-0 in the 2022 playoffs.

Here are 3 keys for Game 4:

1. Oilers need more zone time

Edmonton has had difficulty accumulating offensive pressure, something that wasn’t an issue earlier in the playoffs. The Oilers are averaging 4.00 goals per game in the postseason but have scored two in their past two games, losing Game 2 in Denver 4-0 and Game 3 in Edmonton 4-2.

“We’re not spending as much time in their zone, so you’re not getting the puck to the net as frequently as you want.” forward Zach Hyman said. “They’re breaking out really quickly right now.

“[In Game 3] we were able to stop their breakout better than the previous two, get on the forecheck and be able to hang on to the puck a little bit longer. For us to have success we’re going to have to play that heavy game and put some minutes on those skilled defensemen. “

2. Avalanche want the puck to move

One of the advantages the Avalanche have had is they’ve been able to keep the puck and move quickly in all zones.

Hyman pointed out that it’s been one of the reasons the Oilers have had such trouble establishing a forecheck.

It’s what the Avalanche want to keep doing.

“We’ve got to play to our identity, stay aggressive, assertive and keep on attacking as much as we possibly can,” coach Jared Bednar said. “It’s part of who we are and part of what makes us good.”

3. Rejigging chemistry

The Avalanche will have several options to take Kadri’s place with either Mikko Rantanen or JT Compher moving to second-line center. Compher played there during Game 3 after Kadri was injured.

Bednar would not tip his hand.

“Depending on what they do with their lines, we’ll have a couple of options ready,” Bednar said. “There are certain matchups I like more than others against some of their talent. We’ll look at that. We’ll have a bunch of different guys that could go in there and we could structure our lineup any one of a number of ways. We may need to change it as we go through the game as well. “

Avalanche projected lineup

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Gabriel LandeskogNathan MacKinnonValery Nichushkin

Artturi Lehkonen – Mikko Rantanen – Andre Burakovsky

Alex Newhook – JT Compher – Nico Sturm

Andrew CoglianoDarren HelmLogan O’Connor

Devon ToewsCale Makar

Jack Johnson – Josh Manson

Bowen ByramErik Johnson

Pavel Francouz

Justus Annunen

Scratched: Ryan Murray, Kurtis MacDermid

Injured: Samuel Girard (sternum), Darcy Kuemper (upper body), Nazem Kadri (upper body), Nicolas Aube-Kubel (lower body)

Oilers projected lineup

Zach Hyman – Connor McDavidZack Kassian

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Leon Draisaitl – Josh Archibald

Warren FoegeleRyan McLeodJesse Puljujarvi

Derek RyanDerick Brassard

Darnell NurseCody Ceci

Duncan KeithEvan Bouchard

Brett KulakTyson Barrie

Chris Russell

Mike Smith

Mikko Koskinen

Scratched: Devin Shore, Olivier Rodrigue

Injured: Kailer Yamamoto (upper body)

Suspended: Evander Kane

Status report

Kuemper took part in the morning skate but is not expected to play. The goalie has been out since leaving at 7:19 of the second period in Game 1.… Yamamoto is not available, Edmonton coach Jay Woodcroft said. The forward was injured on a hit from Landeskog in the first period of Game 2… The Oilers are expected to play with 11 forwards and seven defenders. Brassard is expected to play with Yamamoto and Kane out.

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