Bouchard scores late winner, Oilers edge Canucks 3-2 to tie playoff series at 2 games apiece

Evan Bouchard scored the game-winning goal with 38.1 seconds remaining and the Edmonton Oilers edged the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 in Game 4 of their second-round playoff series

ByThe Associated Press
May 15, 2024, 12:48 AM

EDMONTON, Alberta -- Evan Bouchard scored the game-winning goal with 38.1 seconds remaining and the Edmonton Oilers beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 in Game 4 of their second-round playoff series on Tuesday night.

The victory evened the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series at 2-all, with Game 5 set for Thursday night in Vancouver.

Leon Draisaitl opened the scoring for the Oilers on a first-period power play and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins added a tally late in the second period.

Conor Garland and Dakota Joshua had third-period goals for the Canucks, who lost their first road game of the postseason.

Calvin Pickard made 19 saves in his first-ever NHL playoff start, while Arturs Silovs stopped 27 of 30 shots for Vancouver.

The 32-year-old Pickard replaced Stuart Skinner, who allowed four goals on 15 shots in Edmonton’s Game 3 loss on Sunday.

“(Pickard) looked like a guy who had played 100 playoff games,” Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch said. “Composed, really solid, seeing the puck really well.”

In his 13th pro season, , Pickard signed with Edmonton as a free agent in July 2022. He has spent much of his tenure playing for the club’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Bakersfield Condors.

He was elevated to the NHL team’s backup role in November, when the Oilers sent struggling netminder Jack Campbell down to the AHL.

Backing up hasn’t come with consistent ice time, though. Before taking over for Skinner, Pickard’s last appearance came on April 18.

Knoblauch said he’s been impressed by the goalie, even when he wasn’t playing.

“Continually, his starts have been solid, no matter how long he sat, a week, two weeks,” the coach said. “We have a lot of confidence in him and he came up big tonight.”

Staying level headed in Tuesday’s game wasn’t easy, Pickard admitted.

“I was trying to channel my emotions as much as I could,” he said. “Obviously it’s tough, it’s a high-stakes game. Obviously it’s a huge game for us. But I felt comfortable right from the get go.”

Connor McDavid sliced a blistering pass to Draisaitl and the German forward ripped a one-timer past Silovs from the bottom of the right faceoff circle. The goalie got his glove on the shot but the puck bobbled and popped into the net to put the Oilers up 1-0 at the 11:10 mark.

The tally extended Draisaitl’s point streak to all nine of Edmonton’s post-season games, with eight goals and 12 assists across the stretch. He leads the league in playoff points.

The Oilers continued to push in the second but once again found themselves stymied by Silovs.

A missed hit created a two-on-one opportunity for the Oilers with less than a minute left in the second period.

Mattias Ekholm picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and when Juulsen went to bump him off, the veteran defenseman dished off to Nugent-Hopkins. The centerman streaked up the ice and blasted a shot over Silovs’ stick to give Edmonton a 2-0 lead with 39.8 seconds left in the period.

Garland finally got a puck past Pickard 6:54 into the third when he unleashed a blast from the top of the slot, cutting Vancouver’s deficit to 2-1 with his second postseason goal.

The Canucks pulled Silovs with 2:38 to go in favor of an extra attacker and the Canucks took advantage.

Brock Boeser collected a pass from Quinn Hughes, waited a moment for his opportunity, then threw a shot toward the Edmonton net and the puck bounced in off Joshua's skate with 1:41 left in the third.

The Oilers refused to relent and Bouchard snapped a shot in with 38.1 seconds left on the clock, pinging the puck in off Silovs’ stick for his fourth of the playoffs.

It was another solid performance for Silovs, a rookie, Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet said.

Others on the team didn’t show up in the same way, he added.

“We’ve been a resilient group all year,” Tocchet said. “But we need five or six guys to get going here. I mean, it’s the Stanley Cup playoffs. Some guys, I don’t know if they thought it was the playoffs. We can’t play with 12 guys. We’ve got to figure it out quick.”

Canucks defenseman Carson Soucy sat out for a one-game suspension for cross-checking Connor McDavid after the final buzzer in Game 3. Noah Juulsen took his spot in the lineup.

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