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McDavid expects ‘great Game 7’ after Oilers rebound against Canucks

After dropping their previous game in this see-saw battle of a playoff series with the Vancouver Canucks, the Edmonton Oilers came ready to play and to pay closer attention to detail.

It led to a full-game effort by the Oilers — who were facing elimination in Game 6 Saturday night at Rogers Place — in their 5-1 victory over the Canucks to send the best-of-seven series to the limit, with the decisive showdown set for Monday in Vancouver.

“I thought we played faster, cleaner,” said star Oilers captain Connor McDavid, who recorded three assists in the win after being held to just one point the previous three games.

“We were better with the puck, better coming through the neutral zone. We did a great job of getting on top of them on the forecheck and keeping pucks alive.”

Setting a fast pace was “the key” for the Oilers to control the game and find scoring opportunities, said winger Zach Hyman, who scored what proved to be the winning goal 7:14 into the second period on a feed from linemate McDavid.

“When we’re playing fast, we’re getting more opportunities, more looks at their net, and I thought we got some looks off the cycle, too, and then we capitalized,” he told media following the game at Edmonton’s Rogers Place.

Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch said his team made more plays and executed more effectively on Saturday compared to their performance in Thursday’s Game 5 loss because they were taking charge.

“I thought we played a pretty solid game,” Knoblauch told reporters.

“Our breakouts are much better, forecheck was much better, puck management, defensive details.

“We had the puck a lot more than we did in Vancouver just because we were able to make plays and we weren’t sitting back.”

Edmonton Oilers players Zach Hyman (18), Connor McDavid (97) and Evan Bouchard (2) celebrate a goal against the Vancouver Canucks in Game 6 of their second-round NHL playoff series on May 18, 2024, in Edmonton. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)The Oilers accomplished the first victory in the series that saw the winning side take it by more than one goal. They also managed the win despite being shut out on the power play on Saturday for the second game in a row.

Knoblauch said the Canucks are muffling the Oilers’ lethal power play — which sits tops in the NHL playoffs with a 36.8 per cent success rate despite going zero-for-nine with the man advantage the last two games — by blocking shooting and passing lanes.

“They’re making it tough on us (but) it’s important for us not to get impatient,” he said.

“One thing we talked about in the L.A. series (first round vs. the Kings) was (to) slow things down, make the play, not force it.”

Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet said after the game his team “has to flush” the memory of the disappointing loss and prepare for the final match of this back-and-forth series, which has seen the Pacific Division rivals trade wins since the start.

“You’ve got 48 hours to get yourself ready for a huge game,” Tocchet said.

“Not many players are playing in this type of atmosphere. There are a lot of players and teams who are going to be watching that game. I think we play the game as players to be on that stage. Play like you want to be a hero (on Monday). That’s what I think.”

McDavid says he expects Game 7 to feature determination and tenacity on both sides.

“We just bought ourselves another day,” McDavid said of Saturday’s win.

“I would expect the same level of urgency and desperation from our group. I would expect Vancouver to play a better game as well, and I would expect it to be a highly competitive, great Game 7.” 

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