5 THINGS: Western final back even with Edmonton Oilers' win in Game 4

Here are some of important parts that make up the formula so far

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We’re more than halfway through the Western Conference best-of-seven series to see whether the Edmonton Oilers or Dallas Stars will move on to the Stanley Cup Final, and so far, nothing’s been solved.

In fact, it’s right back to square one on the ol’ drawing board with the series tied 2-2 following a commanding 5-2 win by the Oilers at Rogers Place on Wednesday. And that, of course, turns it into a best-of-3 series the rest of the way for a place at Lord Stanley’s table, with the Stars hold home-ice advantage, beginning Friday (6:30 p.m., Sportsnet).

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Here are some of important parts that make up the formula so far:

1. SPECIAL GOAL

Four games in and the series finally has its first goal on special teams.

The thing is, neither the Oilers nor the Stars have yet to register a goal on the power play, with Edmonton going 0-for-6 and Dallas sitting 0-for-9.

So, when Mattias Janmark buried a short-handed goal to give the Oilers a 3-2 lead on a one-timer sent across the ice from Connor Brown in the second period, the goal not only ended up staying as the game-winner, but went down as the only 5-on-4 goal scored with a player in the penalty box.

Combined with an empty-net goal by both teams to end the past two games at 6-on-5, they are more likely to score with fewer players on the ice than more, so far.

2. PENALTY KILLING IT

It should probably come as no surprise Edmonton’s penalty kill went above and beyond Wednesday.

After all, it’s been nothing short of perfection over since their last round against the Vancouver Canucks was tied 2-2, like this one.

That’s seven straight games without giving up a power-play goal, and 23 successful penalty kills, and counting.

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The six successful penalty kills by the Stars over the first four games without giving up a goal makes up their current streak.

3. OLD PROBLEMS?

While the shortie proved to be a back-breaker, it also appeared like the Stars’ legs were giving them trouble.

On Wednesday, it looked like the series was catching up with them. And it might only have been halfway through, at that point.

While experience has been on the Stars’ side, age could be catching up with them at some point in these playoffs. Dallas opened the season tied for the fifth-oldest roster in the NHL, with an average age of 29.2 years.

They are also tied with the New York Islanders for the second-oldest playoff team this year, behind the Carolina Hurricanes (29.3 years). And they’ve got some young players in prominent roles, which also means they have some much older ones bringing up the rear.

Edmonton, meanwhile, swapped out three healthy scratches Wednesday to bring some fresh legs into the game. The Oilers are no spring chickens, either, tied at 19th overall on the same list with the Detroit Red Wings at 28.4 years old.

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4. NO HOOK FOR SKINNER

Just as it looked like Stuart Skinner reached his breaking point once again in these playoffs and was in need of another rest, the Oilers goalie woke up from whatever restless slumber had plagues him.

The Stars scored both their goals within the first 5 1/2 minutes, before the Oilers even managed to register their first shot on net. The broadcast was already panning over to backup Calvin Pickard on the Oilers bench.

But Skinner held on and was a perfect 20-for-20 after that point and didn’t give any further signs of slowing down at all.

5. LONG ROAD

Wednesday was just the second time in the playoff the Stars lost on the road, bringing their away record to 6-2, compared to a sub-par 4-5 inside the friendly confines of American Airlines Center, where Game 5 will be held Friday (6:30 p.m., Sportsnet).

The Oilers, meanwhile, improved to 5-3 at home to equal their road record in these playoffs.

Both squads are now six wins away from hoisting the Stanley Cup, with the Oilers giving Canada a chance to do so for the first time since the 1993 Montreal Canadiens.

Edmonton’s last championship came in 1990, while the Stars’ lone championship came in 1999.

The argument could be made about who wants it more, but it’s the team that shows it most that will be the one that makes it out of this round and into the Stanley Cup Final.

E-mail: [email protected]

On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge

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