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Canucks score four unanswered goals to edge Oilers in Game 1 of series

Conor Garland’s snapshot with five-and-a-half minutes left in the third period capped a three-goal run inside a five-minute span, lifting the Vancouver Canucks to a 5-4 win over the Edmonton Oilers in Game 1 of their second-round National Hockey League playoff series.

With the Rogers Arena crowd still buzzing from defenceman Nikita Zadorov’s blast from the point to beat Stuart Skinner 39 seconds before, winger Garland’s shot from a sharp angle 20 feet out fooled the Oilers’ starting goalie, beating him between the legs to give the Canucks their first lead of the game.

Down 4-2 heading into the third period, Canucks centre J.T. Miller redirected a Brock Boeser shot from inside the blue line from a bad angle past Skinner to energize the home fans.

The Oilers managed just one shot in the final frame before pulling Skinner with 2:09 left in the game, putting three shots on Canucks goalie Arturs Silovs during a furious effort at game’s end.

“There were strange goals all around,” Oilers captain Connor McDavid, who recorded an assist and thought his team was “doing a good job of holding the lead,” told media following the game.

“We scored some strange ones, too. It was kind of a frantic game, and you’re going to get that. Definitely some weird ones, some preventable ones, too, but overall, I didn’t mind our game.”

The Canucks rally came following a second period in which the Pacific Division rivals each notched two goals.

Canucks forward Dakota Joshua got his team on the board 53 seconds into the middle frame, putting a slapshot by defenceman Ian Cole that deflected off the end boards past Skinner.

Joshua paced his team with a goal and two assists on the night.

Canucks captain Quinn Hughes said his team was trying to push “without getting away from our game style and our structure.”

“I thought we did that,” he told media after the game. “We’ll have to do that the rest of the series.”

The Oilers, who put up eight shots through the final two periods for 18 in total, notched two goals 45 seconds apart on markers from defenceman Cody Ceci, on a slap shot from the point, and winger Zach Hyman, whose stick-on-stick shot while battling defenceman Tyler Myers, fluttered under goalie Arturs Silovs left pad into the net to put the Oilers up by three.

Canucks forward Elias Lindholm cut the lead to two when he scored from behind the net, his shot bouncing into the net off Skinner’s stick.

The Canucks finished the game with 24 shots.

Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch said he thought his team played well defensively — “I thought we were in pretty good positions,” he told reporters. “We didn’t give up odd-man rushes, no clear looks in the slots” — but he would like to see his players spend more time in the offensive zone.

“(I’d like to) push them into making more mistakes and having them have to defend a little bit more,” Knoblauch said.

The Oilers opened the scoring on the power play. Just 40 seconds into the game, the Canucks were called for too many men on the ice,  with Hyman burying a cross-crease feed from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins at the 2:11 mark. Hyman’s two goals gives him nine these playoffs to lead the NHL.

Edmonton’s second goal came off a point shot by defenceman Mattias Ekholm, who was fed by centre Leon Draisaitl from the side of the Canucks net after he recovered a Canucks turnover.

Draisaitl, who recorded two assists in the loss, left the Oilers bench with about eight minutes left in the second period with an apparent injury but returned for the third. He had played 9:17 by that point and finished the game having played 16:43.

“Between cramping and equipment issues, that’s why his ice time was down,” Knoblauch said when asked if Draisaitl was hurt. 

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