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Bouchard scores late as Oilers even series with 3-2 win over Canucks

Evan Bouchard scored the game-winning goal with 38.1 seconds on the game clock and the Edmonton Oilers edged the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 in Game 4 of their second-round playoff series on Tuesday.

The victory levelled the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series at 2-2, with Game 5 set for Thursday in Vancouver.

Leon Draisaitl opened the scoring for the Oilers on a first-period power play and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins added a tally late in the second period.

Conor Garland and Brock Boeser had third-period goals for the Canucks, who lost their first road game of the post-season.

Calvin Pickard made 19 saves in his first-ever NHL playoff start, while Arturs Silovs stopped 27 of 30 shots for Vancouver.

The 32-year-old Pickard replaced Stuart Skinner, who allowed four goals on 15 shots in Edmonton’s Game 3 loss on Sunday.

Edmonton’s lethal power play struck midway through the first period to open the scoring after J.T. Miller was sent to the box for interference.

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McDavid sliced a blistering pass to Draisaitl and the German forward ripped a one-timer past Silovs from the bottom of the right faceoff circle. The goalie got his glove on the shot but the puck bobbled and popped into the net to put the Oilers up 1-0 at the 11:10 mark.

The tally extended Draisaitl’s point streak to all nine of Edmonton’s post-season games, with eight goals and 12 assists across the stretch. He leads the league in playoff points.

Pickard was tested before the first intermission when Evander Kane was handed a double minor for high-sticking.

After an anemic start to the extended man advantage, Vancouver peppered the goalie with a flurry of chances in tight. Pickard withstood the barrage, even after being knocked down and forced to make stops from a seated position as Garland looked to poke a puck in from the blue paint.

Edmonton went 1-for-3 on the power play Tuesday while Vancouver was 0-for-3.

The Oilers continued to push in the second but once again found themselves stymied by Silovs.

Zach Hyman came close 14:40 into the period when he whirled around with the puck on his stick and whipped a shot at the Vancouver net from the bottom of the faceoff circle, only to see Silovs stick out his left pad and make the save.

The goalie stoned Kane minutes later, taking a shot off the toe of his right skate to keep Edmonton’s advantage at one.

A missed hit created a two-on-one opportunity for the Oilers with less than a minute left in the second.

Mattias Ekholm picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and when Noah Juulsen went to bump him off, the veteran defenceman dished off to Nugent-Hopkins. The centreman streaked up the ice and blasted a shot over Silovs’ stick to give Edmonton a 2-0 lead with 39.8 seconds left in the period.

The goal was Nugent-Hopkins’ second of the playoffs.

Garland finally got a puck past Pickard 6:54 into the third when he unleashed a blast from the top of the slot, cutting Vancouver’s deficit to 2-1 with his second post-season goal.

The Canucks pulled Silovs with 2:38 to go in favour of an extra attacker and the Canucks took advantage.

Boeser collected a pass from Quinn Hughes, waited a moment for his opportunity, then threw a shot toward the Edmonton net and the puck bounced in off a skate 18:19 into the third.

The Oilers refused to relent and Bouchard snapped a shot in with 38.1 seconds left on the clock, pinging the puck in off Silovs’ stick for his fourth of the playoffs.

Ins and Outs

Canucks defenceman Carson Soucy sat out after being handed a one-game suspension for cross-checking Connor McDavid after the final buzzer in Game 3. Juulsen took his spot in the lineup.

Pickard’s persistence

Pickard’s playoff debut comes in his 13th season of professional hockey. The six-foot-one, 206-pound goalie from Moncton, N.B., was originally picked 49th overall by the Colorado Avalanche in the 2010 draft and has played 139 regular-season NHL games for six different teams. He signed with the Oilers as a free agent in July 2022 and made 23 appearances for the NHL club this season, going 12-7-1 with a 2.45 goals-against average, a .909 save percentage and one shutout.

“I know I can play at this level and this year I proved it to myself and everybody around me,” Pickard said after morning skate Tuesday.

The series returns to Vancouver for Game 5 on Thursday.

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