The Oilers had nothing to prove in today’s regular season finale, and it showed on the scoresheet. They have been comfortably locked in to the second seed in the North division for quite some time now, so they’ve probably been focusing more and more on their round one opponent Winnipeg Jets, and hadn’t given today’s opponents, the Vancouver Canucks, quite as much thought. Vancouver, on the other hand, has 3 games left to play after today’s win, and they’ll be heading home for the summer after that, so their players are playing for roster spots on next seasons team. Edmonton started Mikko Koskinen in goal and Vancouver called on Thatcher Demko. The game played out about how you would expect with all of that in mind.
The Oilers would strike first, as Adam Larsson picked up his fourth goal of the season 12:45 into the first period. The opening goal was assisted by Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid, who both continued point streaks that will end at 8 games closing out the regular season. This would be the only Oilers goal today, but it brought McDavid to 105 points on the year, and Draisaitl would finish the campaign with 84. 1-0 Oilers.
The Canucks tied it up with a short handed goal from Bo Horvat just over a minute into period two. That makes the second game in a row in which the Oilers have given up a shorty, but they didn’t answer back on the same power play like they did last game. Vancouver would start to pull away with it in period three, instead. 1-1 tie to end the second frame.
Just before the midway point of the final period, the Canucks took the lead off a goal from Matthew Highmore, who had just one goal this year coming into today’s contest. Quinn Hughes and JT Miller picked up assists. 2-1 Vancouver.
Sixteen seconds later, Travis Boyd would extend the Vancouver lead, courtesy of a pass from Jimmy Vesey. It was Boyd’s second goal since being traded from Toronto, and his fifth of the year. Two quick goals, and it’s 3-1 Canucks.
Highmore had one more goal in him today, and when he put it in the back of the net he tripled his goal total, going from just one to three on the season in one game. His second of the night was assisted by Brock Boeser, and Miller got his second assist of the night on the play. The goal put Vancouver up by 3 with just over 6 minutes left to play. 4-1 Nucks lead.
That would do it for the game, a 4-1 final score and Vancouver walks away with the win in the Oilers last hurrah of the regular season. Edmonton was 0 for 3 on the power play and gave up a short handed goal again. They were out shot 17-5 in a third period that saw them give up 3 goals and lose the game. Demko made 31 stops on 32 shots for a phenomenal .969 Save%. Koskinen had 37 saves on 41 shots. He didn’t look great in the third period and he really struggled in his last few starts. Mike Smith’s health will be critical to Edmonton’s playoff success. McDavid and Draisaitl played about 16:00 each tonight, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins led the Oilers with 22:53 of ice time.
I’m having a blast in Dover at the NASCAR races this weekend, and I’ll be back to posting in depth recaps for the Oilers playoff games. I’ll write up a round one preview on the ride back to Long Island tomorrow. I hope you’re all enjoying tonight’s opening playoff contest in Washington, and I know we’re in for a great run to this years cup final.