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Field Level Media - Professional sports content solutions | FLM

May 15, 2024 6:37 pm

Canucks aim to get out of gutter, brace for Game 5 vs. Oilers

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Vancouver Canucks coach Rick Tocchet threw down the gauntlet after a disappointing performance from a chunk of his squad during a Game 4 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

How the Canucks react when they play host to the Oilers when the Western Conference semifinal series resumes on Thursday will be a fascinating study.

After his team’s 3-2 loss that has the best-of-seven series tied 2-2, Tocchet said around a half-dozen of his players have not been up to par, to the point he’s questioning whether they even know what is at stake.

Among those under the microscope are Elias Pettersson, who has only two even-strength points during the playoffs and has managed only one goal and three assists in 10 postseason games.

“All fairness to him, I’m not sure he’s getting, sometimes, all the help he needs,” Tocchet said of Pettersson. “But in saying that, I think he can drive the play a little bit better. He can, when the puck comes to him, move his feet and be more dynamic. He’s got the skill set.”

Pettersson said “good question” when asked if he knew why he was struggling and responded with “maybe” when it came to whether he is receiving enough on-ice support from his linemates, but he is well aware the time to make a positive difference is now.

“I want to be better,” Pettersson said. “I want to be the difference maker. It hasn’t gone the way I want, but at the end of the day, we can’t dwell on it. We’ve got a game (Thursday) and I want to be at my best.”

While the Canucks are searching for a rebound, the Oilers hit the road feeling back on track. Not only did Edmonton display the necessary fortitude it needed to with Evan Bouchard’s final-minute, game-winning goal right after Vancouver erased a 2-0 deficit, but it also played solid defense all game.

Edmonton is known for its offensive attack — case in point, the Oilers have scored at least one power-play goal in every game during their playoff run — but its defensive ability played a huge part in drawing even in the series.

“I don’t think we gave up very many chances,” Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch said.

Edmonton’s ability to limit Vancouver’s opportunities in Game 4 helped veteran goaltender Calvin Pickard earn a victory in his first NHL playoff start.

“It’s a big win for us,” said Pickard, 32, who needed 19 saves for the victory. “It’s been a long time since making my debut and I haven’t gotten much playoff action at either level (the AHL or NHL), but it’s an exciting opportunity for me. The guys played great in front of me and now it’s the best-of-three.”

And the Oilers, who hope their goaltending has been solidified after a few poor performances from No. 1 netminder Stuart Skinner led to the switch, believe they have found a formula to build on when the puck drops in Vancouver on Thursday.

“When our backs are up against the wall, that’s when we show what we’re capable of,” said Bouchard, who has scored both of his team’s game-winning goals this series.

“The experience we’ve had the past couple of years helps in this situation, but we know what we have. … We know it’s a special group, and we can’t let this slip.”

–Field Level Media

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