The Day After +12.0: Oilers get last laugh against Canucks

Edmonton Oilers Connor McDavid Stuart Skinner
Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
1 month ago
It was easy to look at the second-round series between the Oilers and Canucks, and think that Vancouver had a legitimate shot at walking out victors.
After all, they handily won all four regular-season matchups, outscoring the Oilers 21-7, including an 8-1 game to open the season and a 6-2 dagger a month later. The Pacific Division title-winning Canucks handled plenty of other teams, too, en route to one of the best seasons in franchise history.
The Canucks market used all that to their advantage during the series, never shying away from pointing out that Vancouver did, in fact, win all four regular season games.
But the Oilers got the last laugh, winning Game 7 of their series Monday night 3-2, giving themselves a berth into the Western Conference finals for the second time in the Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl era. While we saw all series long back-and-forth shifts in the series victors, Edmonton would pull out wins in the two most important games of the series: 6 and 7.
It turns out the regular season doesn’t matter much after all.
“It wasn’t too long ago, a couple months ago, we were sitting here doing an interview talking about losing 8-1,” said Oilers captain Connor McDavid after the win. “They’ve had our number and it feels good to come out on top in this series.
“It was a tight series, a passionate series. Both fan bases going crazy. It’s fun to come out on top of that.”
On Monday, they played close to as good a game as they could’ve played to secure the win. They came out with a strong start to the game, suffocating the Canucks while outshooting them 13-2, all the while staring down the barrel of a four-minute penalty kill to end the frame. Not only did Edmonton now allow a single shot on goal, but they didn’t allow the Canucks to even get set up in the Oilers’ end.
It built momentum heading into the second period. 1:16 in, a Cody Ceci shot from the point beat Artus Silovs clean. Four and a half minutes later, Zach Hyman tipped home an Evan Bouchard point shot, extending the Oilers’ lead to 2-0. While Vancouver had some pushback, Stuart Skinner stood strong in his crease, keeping the Oilers in it.
And when Sam Lafferty tripped up Brett Kulak with under six minutes to go, the time was nigh for the Oilers power play to strike.
That’s when Burnaby boy Ryan Nugent-Hopkins picked up a bouncing rebound, firing a shot past Silovs. It would be the game-winner.
“Not really, to be honest,” he said when asked if it sunk in that he scored the game-winning goal to eliminate the Canucks on his hometown turf. “(I’m) still reeling a bit from the end there. It takes every single guy in here. Definitely proud to get the job done with this group.”
What was he reeling from, you may ask? Well, it was a frantic late-game push that saw the Canucks score two in the final 10 minutes.
Ryan McLeod had a rare defensive misplay, coughing up a puck to Conor Garland, who scored at the 11:27 mark, and then Filip Hronek, who found twine four minutes later. And while the end of that game felt like your hair was on fire, the truth is Vancouver only had five shots on goal, as the Oilers kept them to the outside.
“Would we like to keep it a little less stressful? Yes, probably,” said Leon Draisatl with a smile after the game.
While the Canucks hit the links, the Oilers now turn their eye to a Western Conference Finals matchup against the Dallas Stars, who advanced over the Colorado Avalanche in six games on Friday night.
It will undoubtedly be the Oilers’ toughest challenge yet, taking on a deep team among the league leaders in goals and goals against, with a penchant for rolling lines. Edmonton are no slouches either, says McDavid.
“We’re a deep team too,” he said. “I know our top guys get a lot of attention, but we’re a real deep team.
“I thought we used all 12 forwards tonight in the third period there, and all game long. Both Games 6 and 7, I thought we used all 12 forwards and six D-men. We used both goalies this series. We’re a deep team just like Dallas is.”
Buckle up, folks. These playoffs aren’t over yet.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.


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