Oilers to play Avalanche in Western Conference Final

The Edmonton Oilers will play the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference Final.

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

Connor McDavid scored the overtime game-winning goal in Game 5 and has 26 points (seven goals, 19 assists) in 12 playoff games. He is tied for the NHL lead in points in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with teammate 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,” Colorado center Nathan MacKinnon said. “Maybe three with Kane, and a really deep team. Their structure, I think, is underrated. Playing Edmonton all year, they have a really tight structure with Jay there. So it’s a tough team to play against. They don’t give you much and they’re committed to both sides of the puck, despite the narrative around that team, obviously that’s probably changing now. but really tough team to play against.

“It’s going to be a full-team effort to shut those guys down. Got to stay out of the box as well, but we’re confident. We feel if we play our best, we can get it done against anybody.”

mike smith is 8-3 with a 2.70 goals-against average, .927 save percentage and two shutouts in 12 starts for Edmonton. He made 32 saves on 36 shots Thursday. Mikko Koskinen is 0-1, allowing five goals on 37 shots in two relief appearances.

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 .912 save percentage against the Avalanche. Koskinen allowed one goal on 34 shots in his only start, a 2-1 shootout loss April 9.

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

MacKinnon led the Avalanche against the Oilers with five points (three goals, two assists), and Valery Nichushkin had four (two goals, two assists). Hold Makar had three assists.

Darcy Kuemper started each game and had a 2.62 GAA and .921 save percentage.

The Oilers had not been in the third round of the postseason since 2006, when they lost to the Carolina Hurricanes in seven games in the Stanley Cup Final. Edmonton has played Colorado twice in the playoffs, a five-game loss in the 1997 Western Conference Semifinals and a seven-game victory in the 1998 conference quarterfinals. staff writer Tracey Myers contributed to this report

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