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Oilers win Game 7 over Canucks, advance to Western Conference Final

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You couldn't ask for much more drama: Game 7 with two western Canadian teams in a do-or-die playoff game in a series in which neither side won consecutive games.

Until Monday night.

That's when the Edmonton Oilers weathered a late Vancouver Canucks charge, beating the hosts 3-2 to win their seven-game second-round playoff series in the decisive showdown.

Down three games to two following a loss in a close Game 5 dominated by the Canucks, the Oilers turned the tables in Game 6, winning it in convincing fashion 5-1 on Saturday before taking the final game.

"I knew it was going to be a tight game," Oilers star Connor McDavid told media following Monday's match.

"No one came in here thinking it was going to be some kind of cakewalk. It was tight. I thought we did a good job of responding."

Cocy Ceci opened the scoring after his point shot fooled Canucks goalie Arturs Silovs 1:16 into the second period, a minute after the Oilers had killed off a four-minute minor penalty to Ryan McLeod late in the first period for high-sticking Elias Pettersson.

The goal came shortly after an offensive zone faceoff following an icing call on the Canucks.

"I would've liked to have seen the power play (score on the four-minute opportunity)," Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet said. "It was a big factor."

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said special-teams work is something Oilers players "take so much pride in all season, and this is why," referring to penalty-killers keeping the Canucks at bay on the power play, limiting Vancouver to three goals in 23 attempts with the man advantage in the series and shutting them out completely the final four games.

"We know it can make the difference in games like this. The power play's got to show up and score some timely goals, and the (penalty killers) have got to stop them."

Edmonton Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner and his teammates celebrate as Vancouver Canucks winger Dakota Joshua, front, looks on after Edmonton defeated Vancouver during Game 7 of their second-round NHL playoff series on May 20, 2024, in Vancouver. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)Zach Hyman's recorded the Oilers' second goal at 5:50 of the middle frame, tipping in defenceman Evan Bouchard's high shot from the point.

After managing just five shots on Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner over the first 30 minutes of the game, the Canucks started to keep the puck in the Oilers' end more in the latter half of the second, doubling the shot total and generating 13 scoring chances before Edmonton struck again late in the frame on the power play.

With Canucks forward Sam Lafferty in the penalty box for tripping defenceman Brett Kulak a minute earlier, Nugent-Hopkins made the score 3-0 Oilers with 4:38 left in the period, beating Silovs after corralling Bouchard's slap shot that had rebounded off the end boards.

Conor Garland got the Canucks on the scoreboard at 11:27 of the third period after McLeod whiffed on a pass in his own zone, with the Vancouver winger scooping it up and rifling it past Skinner to make it 3-1.

With the Canucks coming to life following Garland's goal, defenceman Filip Hronek made it 3-2 five minutes later after the Vancouver defenceman scored on a blast from the point courtesy a feed from captain Quinn Hughes.

Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch called a time-out following the Canucks' second goal.

"The building was going crazy, it's loud. Everybody understands what's at stake," McDavid said of the coach's move with 4:36 left in the final frame.

"He settled everyone down, and we were able to close it out."

Edmonton didn't allow another shot.

The Canucks pulled Silovs with about two minutes left, but the Oilers hung on to win.

Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, front left, scores on Vancouver Canucks goalie Arturs Silovs as defenceman Filip Hronek (17) and Oilers forwards Zach Hyman (18) and Leon Draisaitl (29) watch during Game 7 of their second-round NHL playoff series on May 20, 2024, in Vancouver. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)Skinner, who stopped 15 Canucks shots in the game, said his team's play in the final moments was "amazing."

"We knew we had to come out strong and finish the last two-and-a-half minutes," Skinner said.

"The guys just kept blocking shots, kept getting pucks out … Guys were eating pucks, guys did everything they could to win this game."

Silovs turned aside 26 Oilers shots in the loss.

Knoblauch said the Oilers, who didn't lead the series until it was over, have learned through adversity not just through the regular season but in these playoffs.

"There are things, whether a referee calls a bad call or they score a timely goal, you make a mistake, whatever it is, I think during the season, we've handled it well, talked about what we needed to do going forward," he told reporters.

"We saw some of those things happen through this series. We had to make a goalie change, we played really well and we lost. A lot of variables (but) the composure on the bench and the focus from our players was 'next guy up,' win your next shift, (don't) get caught up in what could have happened and look forward to what they're going to be doing."

The Oilers move on to face the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference final, with Game 1 starting at 6:30 p.m. Edmonton time on Thursday in Texas. 

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