Oilers beat Canucks 3-2 in Game 7 to advance to Western Conference final

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a goal and an assist as Edmonton scored three times in the second period and held on to beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 in Game 7 to advance to the Western Conference final
Edmonton Oilers' Mattias Ekholm (14), goalie Stuart Skinner (74), Evan Bouchard (2) and Zach Hyman (18) celebrate after winning against the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series, in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Monday, May 20, 2024. (Ethan Cairns/The Canadian Press via AP)

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Edmonton Oilers' Mattias Ekholm (14), goalie Stuart Skinner (74), Evan Bouchard (2) and Zach Hyman (18) celebrate after winning against the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series, in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Monday, May 20, 2024. (Ethan Cairns/The Canadian Press via AP)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — The Edmonton Oilers are showing they have more scoring options than just Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a goal and an assist as Edmonton scored three times in the second period and held on to beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 in Game 7 on Monday night to advance to the Western Conference final.

Zach Hyman and Cody Ceci also scored, and Evan Bouchard had two assists for the Oilers. Stuart Skinner finished with 15 saves.

“It takes every single guy in here,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “Definitely proud to get the job done with this group.”

Draisaitl leads all players in the playoffs with 24 points, McDavid has 21. and Bouchard leads all defensemen with 20 points. The Canucks held McDavid off the scoresheet for the third time in seven games, and limited Draisaitl to just one assist.

Edmonton, back in the conference finals for the second time in three years, will next face Dallas with Game 1 of that series on Thursday night.

Conor Garland and Filip Hronek scored in the third period for Vancouver, and Arturs Silovs had 26 saves.

After learning leading goal-scorer Brock Boeser was sidelined due to a reported blood-clotting issue, the Canucks were forced to juggle their forward lines on Monday. Sam Lafferty and Ilya Mikheyev drew in for Game 7 after a two-game absence, while Vasily Podkolzin was scratched.

Coaching in his first Stanley Cup playoffs, the Oilers’ Kris Knoblauch singled out Nugent-Hopkins and the bottom-six forwards for successfully killing off a four-minute penalty called on Ryan McLeod late in the first period.

“We played, I thought, really well,” Knoblauch said of his team’s first-period effort, when Edmonton outshot Vancouver 13-2. “That could be a turning point in the game, but our penalty kill, like it has been for almost all the playoffs, has been really solid.”

Silovs was the story of the first period, stopping all 13 shots he faced.

Ceci opened the scoring on his team’s first shot of the second period, with a slap shot from the right point that beat Silovs high to the glove side at 1:16. The Oilers then went on their first power play, and Hyman scored his playoff-leading 11th goal by tipping Bouchard's point shot to Silovs’ stick side at 5:20.

Nugent-Hopkins extended the lead to 3-0 with a sharp-angle shot with 4:38 left. It was Edmonton’s first power-play goal in three games.

The Canucks looked hard-pressed to create any dangerous scoring chances for the first 52 minutes, before an unassisted slot shot by Garland with 8:23 left in the third gave life to the team and its fans. Hronek got Vancouver to within one with 4:36 left to play, and the Canucks kept the pressure dialed up until the final buzzer.

“For the most part, I thought we played really well,” said Draisaitl, who famously declared 2023-24 to be a ‘Cup or Bust’ season after the Oilers were eliminated from the second round of the 2023 playoffs. “Would we like to keep it a little less stressful? Yes, probably.”

Vancouver was 0 for 3 on the power play, while Edmonton was 1 for 2. The Oilers went 20 for 23 on the penalty kill in the series.

After giving up one goal on 15 shots in his return to the net for Edmonton’s Game 6 win, Skinner faced just 17 shots in Game 7, and only five in the third period.

But that didn’t make it an easy night.

“They were able to make plays, but just weren’t able to get shots on net,” Skinner said. “I was working really hard, believe it or not. But I just didn’t get a ton of shots, which is a credit to the guys in front.”

The Oilers improved to 8-4 all time in Game 7s, while the Canucks fell to 6-7.

The Canucks were making their first playoff appearance in front of fans since 2015. Despite losing Vezina Trophy nominee Thatcher Demko to injury after the first game of the first round, the Canucks advanced for the first time since the 2020 playoff bubble.

After the game, Vancouver coach Rick Tocchet emphasized the strides that his group has taken since he stepped behind the bench in January 2023.

“They put respect back to that jersey and into this city,” he said. “Fans have got something to be proud of.”

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Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid, left, and Leon Draisaitl, right, celebrate after they defeated the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series in Vancouver, British Columbia, Monday, May 20, 2024. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

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Vancouver Canucks' Quinn Hughes, front right, and Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid (97) talk after the Oilers won Game 7 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series in Vancouver, British Columbia, Monday, May 20, 2024. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

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Vancouver Canucks' Quinn Hughes (43) and Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid (97) talk while shaking hands after Edmonton defeated Vancouver in Game 7 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series, in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Monday, May 20, 2024. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

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Edmonton Oilers' Evan Bouchard, right, and goalie Stuart Skinner celebrate after Edmonton defeated the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 during Game 7 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series, in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Monday, May 20, 2024. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

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Edmonton Oilers' Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, front left, scores against Vancouver Canucks goalie Arturs Silovs (31) as Canucks' Filip Hronek (17) and Oilers' Zach Hyman (18) and Leon Draisaitl (29) watch during the second period in Game 7 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series in Vancouver, British Columbia, Monday, May 20, 2024. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

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Vancouver Canucks' Conor Garland, right, and Nikita Zadorov, center front, collide after Canucks goalie Arturs Silovs, center back, stopped Edmonton Oilers' Evander Kane, left, during the second period in Game 7 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series in Vancouver, British Columbia, Monday, May 20, 2024. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

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Edmonton Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner (74) watches a shot as Oiles' Darnell Nurse, bottom left, and Vancouver Canucks' Ilya Mikheyev, bottom right, watch during the second period in Game 7 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series in Vancouver, British Columbia, Monday, May 20, 2024. (Ethan Cairns/The Canadian Press via AP)

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Edmonton Oilers' Zach Hyman (18) celebrates after his goal against Vancouver Canucks goalie Arturs Silovs (31) as Canucks' Pius Suter (24) and Quinn Hughes (43) look at the puck in the net during the second period in Game 7 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series in Vancouver, British Columbia, Monday, May 20, 2024. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

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Edmonton Oilers' Evan Bouchard (2) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) celebrate after assisting on Zach Hyman's goal against the Vancouver Canucks during the second period in Game 7 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series in Vancouver, British Columbia, Monday, May 20, 2024. (Ethan Cairns/The Canadian Press via AP)

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Edmonton Oilers' Dylan Holloway, center left, Cody Ceci, center right, and Ryan McLeod (71) celebrate after Ceci's goal against the Vancouver Canucks during the second period in Game 7 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series in Vancouver, British Columbia, Monday, May 20, 2024. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

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Edmonton Oilers defenseman Evan Bouchard (2) celebrates after his goal against the Vancouver Canucks with teammates Connor McDavid (97), Zach Hyman (18), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, third from left, and Mattias Ekholm, fifth from right, during the second period in Game 7 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series in Vancouver, British Columbia, Monday, May 20, 2024. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

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