NHL: Canucks have another chance to oust Oilers, this time in Game 7

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The Vancouver Canucks wasted their first opportunity to vanquish the Edmonton Oilers and advance to the Western Conference finals.

Vancouver must make good on its second chance if it wants to keep its season alive, as the Canucks are set to play host to the Oilers on Monday in Game 7 of their semifinal series.

Trailing 3-2 in the series, Edmonton put together a 5-1 beatdown of Vancouver in Game 6 to take the best-of-seven affair the distance, and now it is up to the Canucks to respond.

“You’re disappointed a little bit, but you know that we are a good bounce-back team,” Vancouver coach Rick Tocchet said. “It’s a Game 7. People would kill to be in this situation right now, and we’ve got to make sure that we act like we want to be in that situation.

“Play like you want to be a hero on Monday, that’s what I think.”

Monday’s winner will face the Dallas Stars in the conference finals, which begin Thursday.

Vancouver will be without star winger Brock Boeser, who will reportedly miss the rest of the postseason due to a blood clot in his leg, per Sportsnet.

Boeser, 27, is having a strong postseason and leads the Canucks with seven goals. He is tied for the team lead with 12 points. Boeser established career bests for goals (40) and points (73) in the regular season.

The Canucks were not even in the same league as the Oilers in Saturday’s loss. Vancouver managed a paltry 15 shots on goal, failed to convert all four of its power-play chances and was all but done and dusted during a one-sided second period that saw Edmonton go up 3-1.

Responding to claim the series will be anything but easy.

“There’s always a test,” Canucks captain Quinn Hughes said. “If you lose three in a row in January, you know, people are still going crazy and that’s a test, too. We’re going to have to treat it like another game. It’s a great opportunity. If you told us we’d have this opportunity in September, we would have took it.”

While Vancouver is trying to rediscover the form that gave it the upper hand in the series, the Oilers will look to build on a dominant performance. That said, Edmonton is also focused on keeping its emotions in check.

“Nothing to be satisfied or excited about,” Oilers captain Connor McDavid said of the Game 6 win. “We just bought ourselves another day, and I would expect the same level of urgency and desperation from our group.

“I would expect Vancouver to play a better game as well, and I would expect it to be a highly competitive, great Game 7.”

Edmonton is looking to reach the conference finals for the second time in three years and has a decided advantage in Game 7 experience, something the Oilers plan to lean on come Monday.

“Experience helps — a familiar situation helps in understanding how small the margins are and how well you have to play to win,” Edmonton forward Zach Hyman said. “I think those things go into it and we want to keep playing, we want to win a Stanley Cup and we want to be here, so we really didn’t have a choice.”

While the Canucks have surprised many this season, the Oilers went into 2023-24 with legitimate Stanley Cup expectations. Monday’s game will put those hopes to the extreme test.

“We have guys in this locker room who are so talented, but they’re (also) winners,” Edmonton defenseman Vincent Desharnais told Sportsnet. “They’re here to win and it showed (Saturday). It’s going to show again on Monday.”

–Field Level Media

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