How Oilers held on in Game 7 to eliminate Canucks: 5 takeaways

VANCOUVER — The Edmonton Oilers brought it Monday night.

In Game 7, the Oilers punched their ticket to the Western Conference Finals and beat the Vancouver Canucks with the kind of conviction they lacked earlier in this series.

It was, in truth, more of a mauling than a typical Game 7. Until the game got late and Edmonton made a few unforced errors, and the Canucks went back to doing what they do – which makes every game that much closer. than he deserves to be.

The final score was 3-2, but the Oilers’ form was far more imposing than that narrow scoreline indicates.

As soon as the puck dropped in the first period, Edmonton cleared its own territory cleanly. They stacked the heavy teams on top of each other. They won the special teams battle decisively. They finally solved a Vancouver team that, until the series ended in Game 6, gave them more problems in this second-round series than most experts expected.

The Canucks, for their part, were poor. Until they aren’t. That’s the magic of this team.

Even after Vancouver wasted a four-minute power play opportunity late in the first period, failing to generate a single shot on goal in that stretch (and giving up a short-handed breakaway against). Even after generating almost no shots, Edmonton took a sizable lead.

They still found their way into the game late, aided by unforced errors from the Oilers and the supreme confidence that made for a remarkable playoff run.

This one, in truth, could have been even more lopsided at the start of the third period, had Arturs Silovs not made massive saves to thwart Brett Kulak on a 10-bell chance following a rebound and another save from five alarms on Leon. Draisaitl from his desk below the right circle.

By the time the game was firmly in Edmonton’s control, the shot counter showed 26 for the Oilers and just four for the Canucks. It was the 10th time in 13 playoff games that Vancouver failed to register as many as 21 shots on goal despite trailing throughout the game.

Ultimately, this dream Vancouver campaign, which exceeded all reasonable expectations and was chock-full of incredible moments, came to an end because the Canucks simply couldn’t bother Stuart Skinner with a high enough volume of quality looks until ‘until it’s too late.

Particularly in the absence of leading scorer Brock Boeser, Vancouver wasn’t creative enough and didn’t control the puck often enough to hang with Edmonton in Games 6 and 7. They gave things back interesting. There is no doubt about the courage of this team.

The Canucks are a tough team to kill, no matter what type of injuries they deal with.

The Oilers will advance to the Western Conference Finals to face the Dallas Stars, leaving Vancouver to lick their wounds and weigh exceptionally tough decisions on how to maintain this impressive, overachieving group, while finding ways to upgrade it offensively.

Here are five takeaways from the deciding Game 7 of this epic second-round playoff series.

The power outage

Vancouver’s power play started the season as an elite unit, but faded significantly down the stretch and was virtually a non-factor in the playoffs.

Until Monday night, the Canucks’ lack of success at five-on-four hadn’t affected them too much in this playoff series so far – mainly because of the way their penalty kill suddenly leveled out in the playoffs. playoffs, dominating the Nashville Predators and even giving the Oilers spectacular problems in PP1 as this series progressed.

However, late in the first period of Game 7, on one of the game’s first sustained heavy drives late in the period, Ryan McLeod caught Elias Pettersson with a careless high stick. His stick drew blood and the decision was a double minor in favor of Vancouver with 3:46 remaining in the period.

The Canucks’ power play opportunity that followed was a horror show. Having had the opportunity to gain some ground in a game that started in nightmare fashion for Vancouver, the Canucks failed to get a shot on goal.

They struggled to set up, spun the puck up top with alarming frequency and found themselves shorthanded on several occasions, despite having an extra skater. They even gave up a breakaway opportunity the other way, which Connor Brown fired into the pads of Arturs Silovs as he tried to go five holes.

It was a huge wasted chance, made even more painful when Cody Ceci scored on a long-range slap shot that Silovs never saw less than a minute after McLeod’s penalty expired.

The distance seems

The Oilers are used to attacking bottom teams.

With superstars like Leon Draisaitl and McDavid, and a 50-goal scorer like Zach Hyman specializing in net, the tip of Edmonton’s spear exists in and around the blue paint.

However, against Silovs, a calm, athletic young goaltender with a big frame and exceptional explosiveness, the Oilers’ preferred method of attack played into the Vancouver starter’s hands.

Silovs is extremely talented and can shut down NHL shooters. However, where his inexperience at the NHL level can show a bit, as with most young goalies, is when it comes to fighting through NHL level screens set by bigger players , faster and more careful than anything you will find in the American. League level.

Facing elimination after Game 5, Edmonton had to adapt. So they began testing Silovs through screens and distance traffic, five-on-five and on the power play. This approach paid off in Game 7.

Silovs was Vancouver’s best player that night and performed exceptionally well in the playoffs. Make no mistake, Vancouver didn’t lose Game 7 because of their goaltending.

As the Oilers looked to create offense, however, three sequences resulted from shots from the point with traffic: a clean shot from Cody Ceci that was partially screened by Nils Åman, a shot from Evan Bouchard that Hyman deflected and a wide shot off the game-ending boards that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins placed on Silovs – which turned this game and this series in Edmonton’s favor.

Cody Ceci: Mr. Game 7

Cody This receives a lot of criticism. It’s not really unjustified. He struggled mightily early in this series, to the point where he was demoted to the third pair alongside Brett Kulak to start Game 4.

But just like he did the last time the Oilers played a Game 7, Ceci stepped up by scoring an opening goal in the second period to get his team going.

Two years ago, Ceci picked off a pass from Connor McDavid at 13:15 of the middle period of the game-winner against the Los Angeles Kings. Edmonton ultimately won 2-0.

On Monday, Dylan Holloway picked up a loose puck on a faceoff in the offensive zone and returned it to Kulak at that point. Kulak slid it to Ceci, who fired a howitzer into the left shoulder of Canucks goaltender Arturs Silovs.

Ceci’s goal at 1:16 of the second period ignited the Oilers’ offense. Zach Hyman and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins then scored before intermission to extend their lead.

However, they don’t get to this point without Mr. Game 7’s explosion.

Bouchard’s domination

When Jay Woodcroft was asked about Evan Bouchard when he was going through a tough time, the former Edmonton coach often noted that the defenseman played better when the spotlight was brighter. Bouchard improves his game in the playoffs, Woodcroft would say.

Well, Bouchard has done it again.

Bouchard had an excellent first round but increased his level in this series against the Canucks. He was simply outstanding, scoring four times – including the game-winning goals in Games 2 and 4. Monday was the icing on the cake.

Bouchard recorded two assists, the first going to Hyman up front. These two passes gave him 11 points in the series. He has 20 points in 12 games, leading all defensemen – just like he did in the 2023 playoffs.

The 24-year-old could have been the Oilers’ best player against Vancouver. Without Leon Draisaitl, he might be their best player in the playoffs.

Oilers power play wins

Edmonton’s power play was really funk heading into the contest. He hadn’t scored since the first period of Game 4, a period of nine missed attempts. They reached double figures with another goalless try early in the second Monday.

Even though the Oilers’ power play was a mess in Game 5 with a 0-for-5 record, it has shown signs of life since then. That much was clear when Draisaitl was robbed of a one-timer in the final seconds of their first opportunity in Game 7.

They finally managed to break through. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins grabbed a rebound off the end boards and fired a shot past a scrambling Silovs.

This made the score 3-0 and proved to be a much-needed goal considering Vancouver’s comeback in the third period.

Edmonton always says that when it scores its power play goals is more important than how many. The Nugent-Hopkins marker certainly fits this theory.

Required reading

(Photo: Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

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