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Five things to know about the NHL playoffs

Today is an off day for the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers as they prepare for Monday’s winner-take-all Game 7 showdown at Rogers Arena.

The Florida Panthers, New York Rangers and Dallas Stars have off days, too, but they’ll be watching Monday to see which Canadian team joins them in the final four.

Here are five things to know about the NHL playoffs:

Flush it. Focus forward. Play Game 7 like you want to be a hero.

Those were the post-game words of Vancouver Canucks coach Rick Tocchet last night after his squad got drilled by the dominant Oilers 5-1 in Edmonton.

The Oilers, with starter Stuart Skinner back in net, held the Canucks to 15 shots, and snapped the trend of one-goal games with the series’ first blowout.

Tocchet said injured all-star goalie Thatcher Demko will not return for Game 7, but hoped his team’s fight and bounceback habits will.

The Oilers, who quickly downplayed momentum after the Canucks won Game 5 in Vancouver, were telling reporters they believe momentum is on their side heading back to the West Coast.

The winner of Monday’s game will head to Dallas to face the Stars on Thursday in the first game of the Western Conference final.

Stay tuned.

NO DRY SPELL FOR DRAISAITL

Leon Draisaitl continued his offensive dominance in Edmonton’s 5-1 win over Vancouver last night. The Oilers’ superstar contributed two assists, extending his point streak to 11 straight games.

Draisaitl is the third active player to register points in 11 straight post-season appearances, joining Nathan MacKinnon (14 games in 2020) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (11 games in 2018).

Draisaitl also became just the fourth player in NHL history to record 60 assists in 60 playoffs games and the third in league history to get to 100 points behind Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.

TOOTH OR CONSEQUENCES

Defenceman Chris Tanev, who starred in Vancouver and Calgary before being dealt to the Dallas Stars this season, might have trouble flashing a bright smile for Round 3 team photos.

Tanev played 32:58 in Friday’s series-clinching win over the Colorado Avalanche — a 2-1 double overtime decision in Game 6. That’s not bad for a 34-year-old, in his 14th NHL season, coming off emergency dental surgery in Game 5.

Tanev got his tooth pushed in on a hard hit from Nathan MacKinnon. He rushed down the players’ tunnel to get the tooth removed, and was back out on the ice to finish the game. When he played with the Canucks in 2018, he took a shot to the face and lost 6 1/2 teeth.

As Stars coach Pete DeBoer said after Tanev’s latest lost chicklet, he doesn’t have many teeth left. DeBoer then quickly added that Tanev didn’t have many teeth to begin with.

BARKOV NETS ANOTHER SELKE

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov, thrilled to have knocked off the Boston Bruins to earn a date in the Eastern Conference final with the New York Rangers, got more good news yesterday when he was awarded the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s best defensive forward.

Barkov is a two-time Selke winner after also finishing first in voting for the award in 2021. He was a big part of the Panthers allowing the fewest goals this season and won 57.3 per cent of his faceoffs, ranking ninth among players with at least 50 games and 500 attempts.

The 28-year-old centre from Finland received 156 of 194 first-place votes from members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and was listed on all but two ballots.

YEAR OF THE COMEBACK

Down doesn’t necessarily mean out in this year’s playoffs. Heading into Saturday’s matchup between the Canucks and Oilers, 51 per cent of the games this post-season ended in comeback wins. New York, Florida and Dallas all advanced to the conference finals by winning after being down on the scoreboard.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 19, 2024.

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