Five things to know about the National Hockey League playoffs

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The Oilers are looking to ramp up after another Game 1 letdown and the Rangers take care of business in their series opener in impressive fashion.

Here are five things to know as we head into Thursday's post-season action:

OILERS IN FAMILIAR POSITION

The Edmonton Oilers dropped Game 1 of their Western Conference Final series to the Colorado Avalanche 8-6 in an eerily similar start to their Battle of Alberta series in the last round with the Calgary Flames.

Edmonton fell to the Flames 9-6 in Game 1 of that series, but still managed to come back and win it in five games.

Losing a game when you score six goals can never feel good, but the Oilers have experience with this kind of thing and have proven they can bounce back, and have belief they can bounce back.

"We know we can be better," Edmonton head coach Jay Woodcroft told reporters Wednesday.

On Thursday night in Denver, his Oilers will get a chance to prove that.

GAME 2 EXPECTED TO BE A TIGHTER, DEFENSIVE GAME

After erupting for 14 goals combined in Game 1, both the Oilers and Avalanche are promising to play a tighter, more defensively sound Game 2 Thursday evening.

"I would expect it to tighten up because I’m sure they’re feeling the same way," Colorado coach Jared Bednar told The Associated Press. "You’re not going to win a lot of playoff games when you give up six or seven."

To help with the defence, each team's goaltenders will likely have to play better.

The Avalanche's Darcy Kuemper is questionable for Game 2 with an upper-body injury. He left Game 1 in the second period, giving up three goals on 16 shots.

For the Oilers, Woodcroft said he wouldn't name his starting goalie until Thursday. Edmonton starter Mike Smith gave up six goals on 25 shots while his replacement, Mikko Koskinen, surrendered one on 21 shots.

RANGERS FLIP THE SWITCH

The New York Rangers took Game 1 of their Eastern Conference final with Tampa Bay Lightning 6-2 Wednesday, and appeared to find another gear that Tampa couldn't match in doing so.

A tightly contest game midway through the second period, with things knotted up at 2-2, Filip Chytil scored a pair of goals about six minutes apart in that middle frame to give New York a 4-2 lead and bust things open.

In the third, Artemi Panarin would make the score 5-2 just 30 seconds into the frame and Mika Zibanejad would make it 6-2 just about five and a half minutes later on the power play.

Chytil's goals appeared to take the wind out of Tampa's sails and Panarin and Zibanejad delivered the knockout blows as the Blueshirts were able to turn a close game on its head in a flash.

WILL END-OF-GAME SKIRMISH SPARK EITHER SIDE?

With less than two minutes left to play in Wednesday's Game 1, tempers flared between the two sides as multiple dust-ups got started on the ice.

Down 6-2 and assuredly going to lose the game, the Lightning's frustration was understandable and they appeared to be looking to find some kind of spark heading into Game 2.

However, the Rangers responded well, and didn't appear phased by the chaos. Tough guy Ryan Reaves was even smiling and appeared to be having a good time as he hauled down both Tampa's Pat Maroon and an official -- who was trying to break up the fight.

Whether this little skirmish allowed either team to get the boost they may have been looking for is anyone's guess at this point.

CAN VASILEVSKIY CONTINUE HIS REMARKABLE STREAK?

Igor Shesterkin proved to be the superior goalie in Game 1, stopping 37 of the 39 shots, compared to just the 28 saves Vasilevskiy made of the 34 shots he faced.

As both a Vezina and Hart Trophy finalist, Shesterkin is expected to be the better netminder between him and the Lightning's veteran, however, heading into Friday's Game 2, he'll likely have to be even better than he was Wednesday night if he'll want a shot at outdueling Vasilevskiy.

There's been no better goalie in the last three years bouncing back from a post-season loss than the Bolts goaltender.

Since the 2020 playoffs, he boasts a 17-0 record with a 1.47 goals-against average, a .942 save percentage and five shutouts after a post-season defeat.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 2, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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