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Canucks edge Oilers 3-1, closer to clinching Pacific Division title

Vancouver Canucks' goalie Casey DeSmith (29) makes the save as Edmonton Oilers' Zach Hyman (18) looks for the rebound during second period NHL action in Edmonton, Saturday, April 13, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson Vancouver Canucks' goalie Casey DeSmith (29) makes the save as Edmonton Oilers' Zach Hyman (18) looks for the rebound during second period NHL action in Edmonton, Saturday, April 13, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
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Barring a minor miracle, the Vancouver Canucks will claim the Pacific Division title.

Casey DeSmith made 32 saves for the win as the Canucks swept their season series with Edmonton, defeating the Oilers 3-1 in their fourth meeting of the season on Saturday.

“We’ve been working to trend back to our top level as a group and I thought that was a really good effort by us,” said Canucks defenceman Tyler Myers. “I didn’t think we tried to force things, we let the game come to us as a team and it was a great team win.”

Sam Lafferty, Pius Suter and Dakota Joshua scored for the Canucks (49-22-9) who all but guaranteed themselves first place in the Pacific Division, now sitting five points up on Edmonton, which still has an extremely slight chance with three games remaining to Vancouver’s two.

“We knew this was a four-point swing toward that goal that we had,” DeSmith said. “It’s not the ultimate goal that we have this season, but it’s definitely something we’ve been working toward and it’s something we take pride in."

Evander Kane replied for the Oilers (48-25-6) who lost their second game in a row.

“It was a competitive game, two teams getting ready for playoffs,” said Oilers forward Warren Foegele. “We knew this was an important game. We’re just trying to play the right way heading into playoffs. I thought we played strong. Disappointed we didn’t get the two points.”

MCDAVID OUT AGAIN

Edmonton was once again without captain Connor McDavid.

Bearing in mind that the Oilers were 21 points behind the Canucks in the Pacific Division standings at American Thanksgiving, managing to come close to overcoming them at the end was an accomplishment in its own right.

“Considering where we were at the start of the year, to be locked into a playoff spot and have home ice secured, I think we would have taken that,” said Oilers forward Zach Hyman. “And with still time left, we’ll see what happens, but I think we’re in a great spot.”

The Oilers had a solid start, outshooting the Canucks 12-4 at one point in the opening period before Stuart Skinner was called to make a huge point blank save on Ilya Mikheyev.

Vancouver continued to flip the script late in the first and was rewarded with a goal coming with just 16 seconds remaining as Lafferty had a clear lane to the net and blasted a shot stick-side that beat Skinner for his career-best 13th goal of the season. J.T. Miller picked up an assist to extend his points streak to 10 games.

The Canucks went up 2-0 with nine minutes to play in the second period as Myers sent a puck toward the net that was deftly deflected by Suter for his 14th.

Edmonton finally got one past DeSmith with 2:12 to play in the middle frame as Darnell Nurse threw a long shot on net that was deflected home by Kane for his 24th of the season.

The Oilers pushed hard to equal things up in the third but a poorly-timed attempt to pull Skinner for an extra attacker late in the final frame allowed Joshua an easy empty-netter for his 17th.

NOTES

It was the fourth and final meeting between the two Canadian clubs, with the previous three occurring during Edmonton’s disastrous first five weeks of the season. Vancouver won their home opener 8-1 over the Oilers in the first game of the campaign. They then won 4-3 in Edmonton’s home opener, and then dispatched the Oilers 6-2 a few weeks later in Vancouver. … Star Oilers forward Connor McDavid missed his third straight game with a lower-body injury, but is still considered day-to-day. The Oilers captain is stuck at 99 assists on the season, needing only one to become just the fourth player in NHL history to hit 100. … Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko missed his 14th straight game despite being a full participant in the Canucks morning skate on Saturday. … At plus-36, the Canucks have the best first period goal differential in the league. … Oilers defenceman Mattias Ekholm has an NHL-best plus-69 rating since coming to Edmonton via trade on March 1, 2023.

UP NEXT

Canucks: Host the Calgary Flames on Tuesday.

Oilers: Host the San Jose Sharks on Monday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 13, 2024.

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