Five things to know about Game 1 of NHL Western final

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Canadian television broadcaster Chris Cuthbert suggested they raised the speed limit for the Western Conference final series as it took less than six minutes for the high-flying offences to produce two goals and a number of near misses on the starting goalies, who never made it to the end.

There were uptempo rushes, punishing checks, highlight-reel goals and a controversial one, 83 shots and injuries, but so far nobody has thrown a water bottle at Nazem Kadri. Then again, it's still early.

Here are five things to know about Game 1 of the so-called West Side Story that eventually finished with 14 goals, four netminders, 25 players getting on the score sheet and another Game 1 loss for the Oilers:

TWO GOALS OFF A CONTROVERSIAL CALL

Edmonton interim coach Jay Woodcroft didn't like the ruling on Colorado's third goal by Cale Makar as Avs' forward Valeri Nichuskin appeared to be offside. But a video review pointed to a possession definition and the goal stood as called on the ice. The Oilers were penalized for losing the challenge and Nazem Kadri scored on the ensuing power play.

"I think control is a discretionary thought process. It's not as if the player knew someone was tagging up, lifted his stick up, waited for it, and then went back. He's under full control. And anyone that's carrying the puck over a blue line, whether your stick is on the puck or not, that's debatable," said Woodcroft, who was an NHL video coach earlier in his career.

BARRIE SAW MAKAR'S RISE COMING

Edmonton defenceman Tyson Barrie skated with Cale Makar in the 2019 playoffs as part of the Avalanche and instantly realized Makar's potential. So the Colorado defenceman's brilliant showing in Game 1 last night did not surprise the Oiler.

“I knew I was in trouble right when I got on the ice with (Makar) the first time,” said Barrie, who was later traded to Toronto in a deal that landed Kadri in Denver. “I thought, ‘I might be out of here.’ He was exceptional.”

Makar registered his fourth three-point outing in the playoffs, which is closing in on NHL record territory.

GRANDPA'S A HIT IN RIVAL FAMILY

Oilers' assistant coach Dave Manson finally got to meet his granddaughter in Denver on Monday. And grandpa was a huge hit as two-year-old Emma Grace was all over him, playing, hugging and laughing.

Josh Manson, the Colorado Avalanche 30-year-old defenceman and son of Dave, said the long-awaited family reunion was long overdue as the COVID-19 pandemic and busy schedules made travel plans tricky.

"We had some good times Monday," said Josh, adding there was no way father and son would avoid contact during the series. “Family comes first. That’s been my dad’s motto, always. It’s different now because he’s behind the bench.”

When asked who Gemma Grace will be cheering for, Josh smiled and offered: "She does love her grandpa. But she better be pulling for me. Or we’ll have words.”

KANE STREAK QUICKLY FORGOTTEN

When Evander Kane opened scoring at 5:04 of the first period, it was his 13th goal in 13 playoff games. Like many stats on this night, it was quickly overshadowed by all the other drama inside Ball Arena. The Avalanche's eight goals were tied for the most in a playoff game in franchise history. And the 14 goals scored by both teams was the most in a conference finals game in 37 years.

MIND'S ON GAME 2, NOT HOOK

"When you're giving up touchdowns in the last two series in Game 1 … that's not a good sign," Oilers' netminder Mike Smith said last night. "But I think it shows a lot of our team that when we're down, we're not out of the fight, and continue to battle right to the end. But lots to clean up."

Smith was pulled after giving up six goals on 25 shots. He promised to be much better in Game 2, which goes Thursday night in Denver.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 1, 2022.

Gord Kurenoff, The Canadian Press

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