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Field Level Media - Professional sports content solutions | FLM

May 13, 2024 6:56 pm

Oilers seek more from goalie, depth scoring in Game 4 vs. Canucks

stuart skinner

The Edmonton Oilers only trail their Western Conference semifinal series 2-1 heading into Tuesday’s home clash against the Vancouver Canucks.

Yet the Oilers are staring at two big, age-old questions about their team — goaltending and depth — as they feel the pressure to pull even before the series gets out of hand.

Coming off Sunday’s 4-3 home loss, the focus is clearly on No. 1 netminder Stuart Skinner, who surrendered four goals on 15 shots before being pulled in favor of Calvin Pickard.

Skinner began a media availability on Monday by apologizing for not talking to reporters after Sunday’s game because he felt he “let the team down.” The 25-year-old said his game requires some adjustments.

“To be super honest, I don’t think it’s anything technical. It’s just me being able to find saves at key times and I haven’t been able to do that,” said Skinner, who has surrendered 12 goals on 58 shots during the series.

It would help if the Oilers’ supporting cast started pulling its weight. Connor McDavid was held without a point for the first time in the playoffs in Sunday’s clash, but the team’s fortunes have rested on the production of McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Zach Hyman, Even Bouchard, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Mattias Ekholm — all too often on the power play.

The likes of Evander Kane, Corey Perry, Ryan McLeod and Mattias Janmark have been non-factors.

“We’ve got to bury some of the chances,” Kane said. “We could have easily scored seven or eight goals (Sunday) night, but we didn’t, and gave up too many and the result is the result.”

A major factor has been the play of rookie Canucks goalie Arturs Silovs. The club’s third-stringer sprang into action in the opening round due to injuries that sidelined Thatcher Demko and Casey DeSmith. Silovs sparkled on Sunday with a 42-save performance, with 21 of those stops in third period to seal the victory. Silovs has posted a 4-2 record in the playoffs.

“The kid’s given us games. It’s a big stage and he’s not blinking,” coach Rick Tocchet said of Silovs. “He’s coming in every day and he’s working hard. He’s a low-maintenance guy. I don’t really see him around too much and he’s played in some pressure games, and this is good for him.”

The Canucks, who won all four regular-season meetings with Edmonton as well, would put themselves in the driver’s seat with a win on Tuesday, gaining an opportunity to clinch at home.

However, they are well aware being outshot by such a wide margin is living dangerously.

“We didn’t want to defend that much,” said center Elias Lindholm, who scored twice in the victory. “In the first period, we played well, but when we get a lead like that, we were talking and we wanted to attack more. But that’s just the way this game went.”

The Canucks will be without defenseman Carson Soucy for Game 4 after the NHL Department of Player Safety handed down a one-game suspension for his cross-check on McDavid after the final buzzer.

Canucks defenseman Nikita Zadorov cross-checked McDavid from behind into Soucy, whose stick was at an “unacceptably high level,” per the league, and hit the Edmonton captain in the face.

Noah Juulsen is the likely replacement for Soucy in Vancouver’s lineup.

–Field Level Media

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