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G11+ Game Notes: The Oilers have their backs up against the wall

Edmonton Oilers Vancouver Canucks Game 4
Photo credit:© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
1 month ago
It’s do-or-die for the Edmonton Oilers.
With the Canucks up three games to two in this best-of-seven series, the Oilers need to win at home in Game 6 on Saturday evening to force a winner-take-all Game 7 back in Vancouver.
1. This is the only second-round series remaining in the NHL playoffs, as the New York Rangers, Florida Panthers, and Dallas Stars have all punched their tickets to the Conference Finals. All three of those teams had an opportunity to finish off their opponents in Game 6 and got the job done. Will the Canucks be able to do the same?
The Oilers have found themselves in this same situation three different times during the Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl era. They hammered the Ducks at home by a score of 7-1 back in 2017 to force a Game 7 but wound up losing the deciding game back in Anaheim. In 2022, they were down three games to two against the L.A. Kings and won Games 6 and 7 by scores of 4-2 and 2-0 to take the series. Last year, they lost to the Golden Knights at home in Game 6 and weren’t able to force a seventh game in Vegas.
This has been an excellent series and a Game 7 would be a cherry on top. No matter what might happen in a deciding game in Vancouver, it would be better than the Oilers bowing out on home ice for the third consecutive year.
2. There was a belief earlier on Saturday that the Oilers were going to make a couple of changes to their lineup but only one came to fruition. Edmonton will be switching goalies for Game 6 but Adam Henrique is not available and Corey Perry will remain in the lineup.
Despite stopping 51 of 56 shots between a win and a loss in Games 4 and 5, Calvin Pickard will be on the bench. Stuart Skinner will get the start for the Oilers in what’ll be the second elimination game of his NHL playoff career. The Edmonton native allowed four goals on 17 shots in last year’s Game 6 loss to the Golden Knights.
The hope is that a well-rested Skinner, who last played in Game 3 on Sunday, can perform under pressure. He posted a .910 save percentage in Edmonton’s five-game series victory over Los Angeles in the first round but struggled to a .793 save percentage in three games against Vancouver.
The other rumoured change had Henrique coming back into the lineup in place of Perry, but Kris Knoblauch said that will not be happening. Henrique suited up for all five games against the Kings and scored a goal and an assist but has been sidelined for most of this series with the Canucks because of an ankle injury. He logged 11:38 in Game 2 and hasn’t played otherwise.
Perry, meanwhile, has been quite a letdown for the Oilers in the playoffs. Coming into this year’s run with 124 points in 196 career playoff games, the 39-year-old has been held off of the scoresheet in all of Edmonton’s 10 games thus far. Even the pesky play that Perry has been known for throughout his career has been absent this spring.
3. If the Oilers are going to keep this series and their Stanley Cup dreams alive, they’re going to need a significant performance from Connor McDavid. The captain was dominant against the Kings with 12 points across five games in the first round, but the Canucks have been able to shut him down four times in this series.
McDavid was limited to just one assist in Vancouver’s Game 1 victory, which saw the Canucks erase a 4-2 deficit with three unanswered goals in the third period. He was paired up with Leon Draisaitl for Game 2 and the duo scored four points each to lead the Oilers to a 4-3 overtime victory.
Since then, though, McDavid has been completely shut down. Between Games 3 and 5, he had just one point, an assist on Leon Draisaitl’s power-play goal that opened the scoring in Game 4. In Vancouver’s Game 5 win, they held the Oilers to just 10 shot attempts and two high-danger scoring chances during the 14:42 that McDavid played at even-strength.

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