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Oil Kings haven't lost hope

by: COURTESY OF JOHN LARIVIER - Edmonton goalie Tristian Jarry can't stop Adam de Champlain's shot from point-blank range during Saturday night's first game of the WHL championship series at Moda Center.Faltering 5-2 at the sticks of the Portland Winterhawks in Game 1 of the Western Hockey League finals at Moda Center, the Edmonton Oil Kings were frustrated Saturday night, but confident.

“We made some mistakes that were uncharacteristic,” Edmonton coach Derek Lazdal said.

However, Lazdal indicated that his team is poised to steal Game 2 on Sunday.

“We’ll learn from it," he said. "Our goal right now is to get that split (Sunday) night."

Lazdal credited the Winterhawks' myriad of successful attackers, including left wing Paul Bittner, who scored two goals, and center Nicolas Petan, who dished out three assists.

“They’ve got three lines that can come at you pretty hard, and they’ve got a lot of skill. We have to pick up our game a little to match their intensity,” Lazdal said.

In looking only at the scoreboard, it would appear that the Winterhawks' opportunistic attack befuddled Oil Kings goalie Tristan Jarry in his first WHL championship series start.

Jarry, who was 12-2 and gave up only 1.86 goals per game during the first three rounds of the playoffs, allowed five Portland shots to zip past him on Saturday.

The Winterhawks struck Jarry early, delivering three goals within the first period, all but sealing a 1-0 series advantage.

However, Lazdal doesn’t blame Jarry for the Oil Kings rough start.

“We gave up three goals on some simple breakdowns in our structure,” he said.

In the second period, Jarry found his groove, snagging acrobatic saves as well as sure-handed ones, allowing the Oil Kings to cut the deficit to 3-2.

Lazdal described his goalie’s effort as “outstanding” in the second period. “He made some big saves for us," Lazdal said. "Our guys have to play a little bit bigger in front of him.”

With 15 shot attempts, the Winterhawks had their most prolific of the game output in the second period, but scored just one goal.

“In the second period, I was just trying to battle hard and give our team a chance,” Jarry said.

But in the third period, Lazdal said his club went astray.

“We got undisciplined," he said.

Edmonton was charged with four penalties in the third period and didn’t convert when it had opportunities to narrow the deficit. The Oil Kings lost the period 1-0 despite slapping 12 shots at Portland goalie Corbin Boes, whereas just eight were directed at Jarry.

Lazdal said he believes a few calls didn’t go Edmonton’s way.

“I’m not going to go down that road on some of the calls, but we took some bad penalties," he said, "penalties we thought could maybe go in the other direction.”

Edmonton was called for 10 penalties, compared to seven on the Winterhawks.

“For us, we have to have that discipline for 60 minutes.”

Jarry said he is confident his defenders will regroup for and provide him the protection he needs.

“The guys are behind me 100 percent," Jarry said. "They’re going to do the best they can to help me, and I’m going to do the best for them.”

Though Edmonton gave up three more goals than Portland, the Oil Kings allowed only three more shots attempts.

“We got some good looks, but we just didn’t burry them,” Lazdal said.

For a team that was 12-2 in the playoffs, without trailing in a series, Edmonton is in unfamiliar territory.

“It’s not our first loss in the playoffs, but it’s upsetting. You want to get that first win,” defenseman Griffin Reinhart said.

However, Lazdal said the Oil Kings will not let the loss linger.

“We can’t worry about it now. We must hit the reset button for (Sunday),” he said.

In tune with Lazdal’s mantra, Jarry said he hopes to put his performance in the rear view mirror.

“This one has to go behind me," Jarry said. "(Sunday) is a new day. The sun always comes up, so I’ll be ready to go.”