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Pickard gets the job done, Bouchard scores the winner in Oilers’ massive 3-2 win in Game 4

Edmonton Oilers celebrate Game 4 win
Photo credit:Baggedmilk
baggedmilk
1 month ago
After dropping the first game at Rogers Place on Sunday, Tuesday night’s rematch was a massive moment for the Edmonton Oilers. Win, and the series is tied. Lose, and our boys would be up against the ropes. Yet, when the chips were down, the Oilers found a way to grind out a clutch 3-2 win in front of a raucous Rogers Place crowd, tying the series in a pivotal Game 4 nail-biter.

CALVIN PICKARD, WE SPEAK YOUR NAME

The big question for every Oilers fan ahead of last night’s game was whether Kris Knoblauch made the right decision by starting Calvin Pickard instead of Stuart Skinner. Obviously, Skinner’s first three games haven’t gone the way we wanted regarding his personal results, but there’s little doubt that playing the backup in a game this important is a huge gamble. And for many of us Oilers fans, there was almost an underlying tension as we walked into the building.
Yet, despite the pressure he must have felt to perform in his first start since April 17th against the Coyotes, Calvin Pickard stood tall between the pipes and made the saves the Oilers needed to win. This certainly wasn’t the busiest night Pickard has ever had — he only faced 21 shots — but the man was dialled in all night and gave his teammates the foundation they needed to pull out the victory.
Even when the Canucks pulled themselves back into the game, Pickard was calm in the crease and I had the utmost confidence in him that he would be able to lock things down if needed. Thankfully, Evan Bouchard decided to call game before it got to that point, but even so, our man Picks was fantastic in his first ever playoff start. Could you imagine if someone told you back in October that Calvin Pickard would backstop the Oilers to a massive Game 4 win in the second round? What a story.

THE GAME 4 SWING

When a series is 2-1 as ours was ahead of Tuesday’s matchup against Vancouver, Game 4 is always a pivotal moment. Either the Oilers were going to find a way to win and tie things up at two apiece, or the Canucks were going to take a stranglehold on the series heading into Game 5. The stakes were high, the vibes were tense, and the only acceptable outcome was for the home side to find a way to get the job done.
For the first 40 minutes, the Oilers were far and away the better team, and it was almost unlucky that they couldn’t get more than the two goals they had by the intermission. I mean, I won’t lie to you, I was a little bit in my feelings when the Canucks came back to tie the game with under two minutes to play, but I absolutely love the way the boys pushed for the winner instead of sitting back and waiting for OT.

BOUCHARD IS TURNING INTO A #1 D-MAN BEFORE OUR EYES

I know there are times when we would like Evan Bouchard to play with a little more urgency in his own zone — he’s getting so much better in that department btw — but there is no doubt that the guy is an absolute unit offensively. Even outside of the game winning goal, the plays Bouchard routinely makes with the puck never cease to amaze me, and it’s remarkable how calm he is with the puck on his stick.
All I know for sure is that this kid — despite the fact he looks 40 years old — is developing into a stud on the blue line, and I cannot wait to see what his ceiling will be.
With one more year on his contract at $3.9 million, the Oilers are getting fantastic value from Dad right now, and we had better enjoy it because the guy is pacing to be one of the richest men alive once this current contract runs out. Either way, I love watching Evan Bouchard play hockey and it truly seems like no moment is too big for him, which we’ve already seen twice in this series with a pair of game winners.

OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING…

 
-My man Ryan Nugent-Hopkins hadn’t scored a 5×5 goal yet in these playoffs, but he came up with a huge one late in the second period after he looked off Connor McDavid on the 2-on-1 and snapped a wrister past Silovs on the blocker side. It was a clutch goal at a massive moment in the game and gave the Oilers some insurance that they would end up needing. I know we still need more from RNH as the series continues, but I hope last night’s goal can be the start of him building something.
-How about the series Leon Draisaitl is having? Not only is he playing through some kind of injury with relative ease, but he’s just as productive as we could ever hope for him to be, wrapping up the night with a big power play goal and also the primary assist on Bouchard’s game winner.
-He may not have scored in Game 4 — he did get an assist — but I loved the way Evander Kane played in is 16 minutes of TOI. Kane was physical, he was moving his feet, and I really don’t think it will be long before he starts cashing in goals if he can keep his engine cruising the way it did last night.
-MATTIAS EKHOLM HEATER ALERT! The big man has five points (3G, 2A) through the first four games of this series, and last night’s helper on RNH’s 2-0 goal was earned the hard way after Noah Juulsen stepped up on him with a big hit.
-For me, one of the most frustrating parts of the Oilers game was their inability to cleanly break the puck out of their own zone. In Game 3, the Oilers duffed their breakouts so many times that it was almost surprising that the Canucks weren’t able to get more done than they did. On Tuesday night, the Oilers did a much better job of supporting each other on the breakout and finding lanes for clean zone exits.
-Looking at the special teams, the Oilers went 1-for-2 on the power play while killing off all three shorthanded situations they faced. Arguably, there could have been plenty of additional calls for either side — definitely for us — but it seems like the refs have been dealing with some kind of max penalty number or something because they were, once again, letting a tonne of shenanigans go unpunished.
-Make it two games in a row where the Oilers owned the shot clock, wrapping up Game 4 with a 30 shots to the Canucks 21.
-The Canucks have been dominating in the faceoff circle, and that makes me especially upset given that everyone knows how much I love when the boys win draws. Unfortunately, our boys still struggled on the dot a little bit, winning only 46.8% of the faceoffs. Not horrible by any means, but I’m looking for more.

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