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Bouchard scores late to lift Oilers over Canucks, tie series

Edmonton Oilers defenceman Vincent Desharnais checks Vancouver Canucks forward Dakota Joshua during NHL playoff action on May 14, 2024, in Edmonton. Edmonton Oilers defenceman Vincent Desharnais checks Vancouver Canucks forward Dakota Joshua during NHL playoff action on May 14, 2024, in Edmonton.
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Desperate? A little bit in the Edmonton Oilers' case, and it showed Tuesday night at Rogers Place.

Down two games to one in their second-round playoff series against the Vancouver Canucks, the Oilers played with an intensity in front of their home crowd that their opponents didn't quite match until the final period.

And after a final frame that saw the visiting Canucks claw their way back and tie the game late, a point shot by Oilers defenceman Evan Bouchard with 38 seconds left (until what seemed like certain overtime) iced the 3-2 victory for Edmonton to knot the series.

After a few lineup tweaks that featured a change in goal and separate forward lines for their two biggest stars, the Oilers responded with a complete, intense effort Tuesday night in Game 4.

Complete coverage of the Edmonton Oilers' Stanley Cup Playoffs run

The Oilers split up Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who had been skating on the top line with Zach Hyman, each of them centring their own forward units.

And it worked.

Draisaitl commanded the play seemingly whenever he carried the puck up ice and into the Canucks zone, with signs of chemistry between him and new linemate Dylan Holloway, who was moved up from third-line duty onto the second line, with Evander Kane rounding out the trio and bringing a helping of grit.

McDavid, meanwhile, skated between Hyman and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Draisaitl drew first blood on a power-play goal at 11:10 of the first period, taking a feed from a skittering McDavid in the high slot and firing it from his common perch at the top of the faceoff circle to Canucks goalie Arturs Silovs' left.

More Oilers' determination came following a late first-period four-minute minor penalty to Kane courtesy a high stick on Canucks defenceman Tyler Myers, with the subsequent penalty-kill keeping the Canucks to one shot and frequently clearing the puck from their zone.

The second period saw some pushback from the Canucks, who increased their shot total from four in the first to 10 in the middle frame, but the Oilers remained firmly in control with 14 shots in the second to run their total to 24 through 40 minutes.

It led to a late-period goal by Nugent-Hopkins, who jumped on a loose puck from a collision outside the Vancouver blueline for a two-on-one break with McDavid to put Edmonton up by two.

A goal by Conor Garland at 6:54 of the third — the winger deposited a shot from the high slot in the top corner of the Oilers ' net, beating Pickard glove side — gave the Canucks life, leading to the tying goal, Vancouver net empty, late in the frame by Dakota Joshua.

Bouchard — and Draisaitl, who feathered a pass from beside the Canucks net to his wide-open defenceman — slapped home the winner to send the series back to Vancouver on Thursday tied at two games a piece.

Goalie Calvin Pickard, who made his first career NHL playoff start in place of Stuart Skinner, stopped 19 shots for the Oilers, while Silovs turned away 27.

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