The Colorado Avalanche have won the first three games of the Western Conference Finals and have four chances to qualify for their first series of titles since 2001.

The Oilers’ task at home Monday night is simple: win a game.

“Everyone is counting on us, so there’s no pressure from our side,” Hyman said Sunday. “All the pressure is shifting to Colorado. They are expected to win now.

“For us, it’s just about getting one and going from there.”

The plucky winger, who signed with Edmonton in free agency last summer, and the Leafs led 3-1 over Montreal in the first round just over 12 months ago before the Canadiens came back with three straight wins – including two in overtime – to stun Toronto in Sept.

“A lot of guys in (this) locker room have been up or down in the series and seen a swing,” Hyman added. “I got a glimpse of it last year. I don’t think anyone gave them a chance to come back on this show, and of course they did.

Hyman saw a simple formula on the other side.

“It’s hockey – you’re not out until you’re out,” he said. “You have to keep sowing that seed of doubt. It starts with a win.

Keith and the Blackhawks’ comeback against Vancouver in the first round more than a decade ago ultimately failed — the Canucks won a spectacular Game 7 in overtime — but he could feel the tension mounting with each Chicago victory.

“The pressure is changing now,” said Keith, a veteran defenseman and three-time Stanley Cup champion acquired by the Oilers last summer to provide steady, calm leadership through tough times. “Not many people expect us to do much now.

“Just go play hockey.”

The fast, talented, skilled and relentless Avalanche, however, is a different animal.

And the Oilers will look to extend their season without Evander Kane after he was suspended one game for Saturday’s nasty boarding incident involving Nazem Kadri.

After a wild 8-6 opener in Denver, the West’s top seed allowed just two goals in the final 127 minutes 24 seconds, both in Saturday’s 4-2 victory that pushed Edmonton to the brink of elimination.

Seeking to become the fifth team in NHL history to win a series after leading 3-0, the Oilers scored 31 combined goals in their five-game win over the Calgary Flames and the curtain-raiser against the Calgary Flames. ‘Avalanche, led by the ridiculously paced offense set by Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

But they didn’t generate much in the rush — Edmonton’s bread and butter all season and the playoffs — against Colorado and were unwilling or unable to make it to the middle. ice out of the cycle.

“I don’t think we’ve scored enough dirty goals,” Hyman said. “These are the chances we need to generate more frequently.”

Oilers interim head coach Jay Woodcroft said his group did a better job in Game 3 that was tied 2-2 midway through the third before Edmonton hit a post on the power play and which Colorado scores moments later to take the win.

But he is looking for more.

“You have to be ready to shoot through the structure,” Woodcroft said. “You have to get the puck there, but you also have to have bodies there to get those second and third chances.”

Woodcroft, who replaced the fired Dave Tippett with 2½ months left in the regular season and led the Oilers to the second-best NHL record in 38 games in charge, moved his chess pieces around the board in the three first games of the conference finals.

He used different combinations up front – McDavid and Draisaitl together, then separately, then together again – but couldn’t find a solution.

That will have to change for the series to return to Denver.

“We’re here to win a game,” Woodcroft said. “This message has been conveyed to our team since February 11. We’re here to win a hockey game and take care of the day’s business.

“When you do that, the results take care of themselves.”

The series has been bad by 2022 standards.

Edmonton lost wing Kailer Yamamoto to a hit by Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog in Game 2, while Woodcroft accused Colorado star Nathan MacKinnon of kicking Draisaitl in the game 3.

And then there was the other incident on Saturday which saw Kane, who leads the playoffs with 13 goals, crush Kadri from behind.

Assessed a five-minute penalty on play, the Oilers forward was suspended by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety on Sunday and will watch Monday with his team’s season on the line.

Kadri, meanwhile, has been ruled out for at least the rest of the series, but head coach Jared Bednar says Colorado is better equipped to handle a loss of this magnitude – the Avalanche are also less of a defenseman. of the top 4 Samuel Girard and the No. 1 goalkeeper Darcy Kuemper — than in years past.

“The depth we added to the (trade) deadline really helped us,” said Bednar, whose team acquired Arturri Lehkonen, Andrew Cogliano and Josh Manson in March.

“These guys all came in and had impacts.”

On the other side, the Oilers need impact performance and an even better effort to get a first step out of that deep hole.

Because if they don’t, Edmonton’s first trip to the conference final since 2006 will come to an abrupt end.

“We’re a team that’s faced adversity, we’ve talked about it all year,” Hyman said. “We are still a confident group. If there’s ever a team that could do it, I believe it’s the team.

“It starts with one.”

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on June 5, 2022.

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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press