5 THINGS: Edmonton Oilers waste strong start to trail Stars 2-1

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It’s not how you start, but how you finish, as the ol’ saying goes.

So, the fact the Edmonton Oilers jumped out to an impressive 2-0 lead over the Dallas Stars, only to end up losing 5-3 in Game 3 of the Western Conference final at Rogers Place on Monday probably doesn’t matter.

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Except it does.

If for nothing more than the simple fact we’ve seen this kind of thing before. And that’s concerning for anyone hoping to see the Oilers reach the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 2006.

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They’ve fallen behind 2-1 in the series and need to figure out how to keep the pedal to the metal after they floor it off the line.

Here are five factors to consider heading into Game 4 at Rogers Place on Wednesday (6:30 p.m., CBC, Sportsnet):

1. No bounceback

Monday marked the first time in these playoffs the Oilers lost back-to-back games.

Up until now, they’ve showed incredible bounceback ability, surviving a disheartening 5-4 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings in the only game they faltered on the way to winning the opening round 4-1.

And then there was the back-and-forth second-round series against the Vancouver Canucks, which saw the Oilers keep pace with the only team to finish ahead of them in the Pacific Division this season, right up until their backs were against the wall and they needed to win two in a row to finish it in seven games, which they did.

But after jumping to a 1-0 series lead against the Stars in the conference final, the Oilers turned a falter into a slip, as they now find themselves behind and looking to avoid the slip turning into a slide in Game 4.

2. Looks familiar

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The last time the Oilers allowed three playoff goals in quick succession, they were completely unravelling in a second-round series loss last year to the eventual champion Vegas Golden Knights.

Whereas on Monday, it was Jason Robertson scoring a hat trick to propel the Stars to victory, the Golden Knights got three from Jonathan Marchessault on the way to a series-clinching 5-2 win in Game 6.

One game earlier, Vegas erupted in the second period for their three quickest goals in franchise history, spanning just 89 seconds, to come back from a 2-1 deficit and win 4-3 to turn the tide and take a stranglehold on the series.

On Monday, the Stars scored three in a span of 3:33  in the second period on the way to taking their first lead of the series.

3. Same, but different

But it wasn’t quite a cut-and-dry case of history repeating itself for Stuart Skinner.

“I did not feel that. I mean, that’s a long time ago,” said the Oilers goalie, who was the starter in both series. “So, I don’t mean to be rude but that has nothing to do with what happened today. We have a completely different team. And I think that honestly, even though that it did happen, we stayed with it.

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“We were able to get that third goal and tie it up 3-3 so you’re going into the third period as a 0-0 game, and it was a minimized mistake.”

4. Third-period letdowns

Perhaps the part that should be more concerning from Monday’s loss came in the final frame.

It’s the latest in a growing trend that’s seen the Oilers fail to register a third-period goal in the first three games of the series, getting outscored 5-0 by the Stars in that span.

But it gets worse.

The Oilers didn’t score in the third period in five of their last six games going back to the second round, and have been outscored 10-3 in their last seven third periods. And while they came out of those games with a 4-3 record, it’s far from a formula for success in the playoffs.

5. Powering down

Where has Edmonton’s power play gone?

The once mighty Oilers man-advantage failed the Oilers on Monday, going 0-for-2, just like it did two nights earlier in a Game 2 loss. In fact, the Oilers have yet to score a power-play goal against the Stars in five tries this series.

Their penalty kill is still lights out, pushing its streak to 22-straight successful attempts over the past seven-plus games now to sit first overall in the playoffs at 92.9 per cent. But the power play, while still an awe-inspiring 33.3 per cent, has yet to fluster the Stars.

E-mail: [email protected]

On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge

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