Canucks snap six-game losing skid with dominant 6-3 win over Oilers
Edmonton Oilers' Alex Chiasson (39) and Vancouver Canucks' Jayce Hawryluk (13) battle for the puck during first period NHL action in Edmonton on Thursday, May 6, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
EDMONTON -- Travis Hamonic says Thursday night was exactly the kind of result the beleaguered Vancouver Canucks needed.
After losing six in a row, the Canucks stormed the ice in Edmonton on Thursday, dominating the Oilers in a 6-3 victory.
Snapping the skid felt good, Hamonic said.
“As the season grinds along, it's never going to go necessarily the way you think or you want. But you've got to kind of slow things down and enjoy the wins when they come your way and reset tomorrow,” said the veteran defenceman.
“It felt like we'd been kind of grinding for a little bit for the last couple and it was nice to get one.”
Hamonic had a Gordie Howe hat trick in the win, scoring his first goal in a Canucks uniform, adding an assist, and dropping the gloves with Edmonton's Alex Chiasson.
“You just want to do your part,” he said. “You want to kind of find your role on the team and try and help and chip in. It was nice to see one go in.”
His big night came on his mom's birthday.
“I know she doesn't like when I fight too much. But she'll be happy about the goal, for sure,” Hamonic said with a grin.
It's been a difficult stretch for Vancouver. The squad chalked up a pair of big wins over the Toronto Maple Leafs directly after returning from the NHL's worst COVID-19 outbreak, but has struggled since.
A flood of injuries has exacerbated the issue, keeping a number of stalwart players out of the lineup and leading to fresh faces learning new roles without much practice time.
Coach Travis Green said he and his staff have done their best to be honest with the group and keep them confident.
“I think they have been working extremely hard, competing extremely hard,” he said. “We've had a couple of games where top end guys have really taken over the game on the other team and not getting results.
“Any time you're talking to a team and trying to teach and keep them confident, getting a win goes a long way. And I think tonight was an important win for our group.”
Ten different Canucks players made it on to the score sheet on Thursday.
Nils Hoglander, Jayce Hawryluk and Brock Boeser each scored and chalked up an assist for Vancouver (20-25-3). Jack Rathbone buried his first NHL goal and Tyler Graovac found the back of the net for the first time since November 2019.
Leon Draisaitl found the back of the net twice for Edmonton (32-17-2), Jesse Puljujarvi scored and Connor McDavid added three assists.
The Oilers outshot the Canucks 42-27 but Vancouver goalie Thatcher Demko kept his side in the game, making 39 saves, including a stop on a McDavid penalty shot.
Defenceman Tyler Myers slashed the Oilers captain from behind on a breakaway midway through the third, prompting the 1-on-1 chance.
McDavid wove his way into the Canucks zone and flipped a shot on net from in tight, but Demko stretched out to make the pad stop.
“I was kind of swimming there for a second, to be honest,” the goalie said. “Quick hands, he's a good player, obviously everyone knows that. And he's got a handful of things that he can go to in a situation like that and I was just trying to be patient. I thought he had me beat there for a second and got a leg out and luckily I got a piece of it.”
Mikko Koskinen was pulled from Edmonton's crease midway through the first period after allowing four goals on four shots in the first period. Mike Smith stopped 21-of-23 shots in relief and registered an assist on Draisaitl's first goal.
“I'm not sure I've ever seen that where the first four shots go in your net. So it's a big hole to jump out of,” said Oilers coach Dave Tippett.
Hoglander opened the scoring just 31 seconds in, dodging Puljujarvi and blasting a shot past Koskinen from the left face-off circle for his 10th goal of the year.
Rathbone added to the tally 4:43 into the first. A shot from Hawryluk was blocked in front of the net and Rathbone picked up the puck in the slot, sending a wrist shot over Koskinen's glove.
Vancouver went up 3-0 just 50 seconds later when Hamonic bounced a puck in off Koskinen's shoulder.
Koskinen was chased 12:22 into the opening frame after Hawryluk sent a shot through his legs, building Vancouver's lead to 4-0.
The netminder responded by smashing his stick on the goal post until it snapped.
It wasn't just goaltending that was the problem early in Thursday's game, McDavid said.
“The whole team wasn't very good to start, top to bottom,” he said. “They were obviously ready to go and got the jump on us. And we couldn't stop the bleeding until it was a little too late and put ourselves a little too far behind the eight ball.”
The Oilers were down 5-2 heading into the final frame Thursday but refused to relent.
Draisaitl finally beat Demko 12:55 into third with a shot from the bottom of the left face-off circle, his second of the night and 28th goal of the season.
McDavid tallied his third assist on the play. He continues to lead the NHL in scoring with 96 points (31 goals, 65 assists) in the pandemic-condensed campaign.
The Oilers still hold a 5-3 edge over the Canucks in the 10-game series. The next round will go Saturday in Edmonton.
NOTE: The result snapped a three-game win streak for Edmonton. The Oilers beat the Canucks 4-1 on Tuesday. â€¦ Edmonton forward Patrick Russell played his first game since March 13.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2021.