Canucks try to ride big win into road clincher in Game 6

League: NHL


Posted on: 18 May, 2024 at 05:39 PM

Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

The Edmonton Oilers are all too aware that replicating their performance from Game 5 will not be good enough to keep their Stanley Cup hopes alive when they play host to the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday.

With the Oilers down 3-2 in the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series, they must rebound from a sub-par performance in Thursday's 3-2 loss that has Edmonton's season on the brink and the Canucks on the verge of advancing.

"We've dealt with adversity throughout the year, and handled it pretty well," Oilers defenseman Cody Ceci said Friday. "I think now it's time for all of us to bring our ‘A' game.

"It's another great chance for our group. Year after year, you never know what changes are going to be made, so this is a great chance for a great group, and a group we want to win with."

Goaltender Stuart Skinner will start in net on Saturday for Edmonton.

Stuart allowed four goals on 15 shots in Edmonton's 4-3 loss to Vancouver in Game 3 on Sunday. Calvin Pickard started the next two games for the Oilers, turning aside 19 shots in a 3-2 win before yielding three goals in Game 5.

"I'm excited to get back in the net," Skinner said Saturday. "I'm excited to get to do my job again."

The Oilers twice surrendered leads in Thursday's loss before J.T. Miller scored the final-minute winning goal, but that told only part of the tale.

Edmonton was in control through the first period, but the momentum swung 180 degrees. The Oilers' vaunted power play was blanked through five chances, three during the first period, while the Canucks wrestled away control during the second period and carried it to victory.

"We all know there's momentum swings, but you've got to push through that," said Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl, who has collected at least one point in all 10 playoff games. "You've got to find and create your own momentum and we didn't do that. We just have to be better."

In NHL history, the team winning Game 5 when a best-of-seven affair is tied at 2 has a 231-61 mark in the series.

Curiously, no team has won consecutive games yet in this series, and the Canucks would dearly love to close out the series and avoid a Game 7, even if it would be on home ice.

They certainly found most of the blueprint for success in Thursday's win, though it required a comeback and late-game heroics. On top of carrying the play for the bulk of the game, the Canucks finally fired 30 or more shots on goal in a playoff game this spring.

Moreover, the collection of players under the microscope due to their struggles the past few outings - namely Elias Pettersson and Nils Hoglander - had their best game of the playoffs, only a couple of nights after coach Rick Tocchet called out a bunch of his players for indifferent play.

It appears that challenge was met.

"Rick made changes as coaches should," defenseman Tyler Myers told Sportsnet. "But I thought the guys in the room stepped up and responded. We want to be a team that does that when things don't go our way."

Those who stepped up did not end there, with Carson Soucy, back after serving a one-game suspension, and Phil Di Giuseppe, who returned after missing two games due to the birth of a son, scoring goals.

It adds up to a team that knows an opportunity for something special is staring them in the face.

"Looking back at the five years (since) some of us came in together, to be in the position that we're in now, you can tell nobody's taking it for granted," Myers said.

"And it's a ton of fun. It's why you play the game this time of year. ... it's a special feeling. We want to keep it going."

-Field Level Media