Oilers 3, Canucks 2: McDavid’s magic spoils Vancouver’s playoff optimism

EDMONTON — Following their inspired 3-2 overtime win over Toronto on Wednesday night, the Vancouver Canucks spoke confidently about rejoining the playoff fight in the West.

Turns out the momentum from that win had a limited shelf life. Here’s what we learned from the Canucks’ 3-2 loss against the Edmonton Oiliers on Thursday night:
Demko not the issue
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elite goaltending on a nightly basis, Travis Green opted to start Thatcher Demko against the Oilers, and Green didn’t waste a lot of time explaining his reasoning.

“Three games in four nights,” said the Canucks head coach. “It’s as simple as that. Marky played a good game last night (in the win over Toronto). We’re confident in Demko. We’ll probably go to Marky on Saturday.”

Demko, in fact, was the least of the Canucks’ problems against the Oilers; but when Alex Chiasson opened the scoring five minutes in after Derrick Pouliot lost a puck battle to Sam Gagner, the visitors were in chase mode for the duration of the contest.
Zack Kassian gave the Oilers a 2-0 lead later in the first, converting a dazzling pass by Connor McDavid; and McDavid was back in the second, presenting Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with an empty net.

Down 3-0, the Canucks mounted a determined, if not doomed, comeback, that began when Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen gifted a goal for Jay Beagle. Koskinen misplayed Brock Boeser’s long-distance wrister, leaving Beagle with a tap-in.

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Things got serious in the third when Alex Edler beat Koskinen with a wrist shot from the blue line after the Canucks produced a series of near-misses on the power play.

A couple of minutes later, Demko stopped Leon Draisaitl on a breakaway before an Edler point shot was tipped off the crossbar. The Canucks also had a later power play negated by a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty but couldn’t generate much over the final three minutes.

“Obviously I wasn’t happy with my game in Arizona (a 5-2 loss in his last start eight days ago),” said Demko, who stopped 31 of 34 shots and shut the Oilers down over the last 39 minutes. “It was a good game for me tonight to come back and try to get more comfortable and more fluid. It was tough giving up two early goals like that, but I was able to stay in it.”

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