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Canucks edge Oilers 3-1, closer to clinching Pacific Division title

EDMONTON — Casey DeSmith made 32 saves for the win as the Vancouver Canucks swept their season series with Edmonton, defeating the Oilers 3-1 in their fourth meeting of the season on Saturday.

Sam Lafferty, Pius Suter and Dakota Joshua scored for the Canucks (49-22-9) who all but guaranteed themselves first place in the Pacific Division, now sitting five points up on Edmonton, which still has an extremely slight chance with three games remaining to Vancouver’s two.

Evander Kane replied for the Oilers (48-25-6) who lost their second game in a row. Edmonton was once again without captain Connor McDavid.

The Oilers had a solid start, outshooting the Canucks 12-4 at one point in the opening period before Stuart Skinner was called to make a huge point blank save on Ilya Mikheyev.

Vancouver continued to flip the script late in the first and was rewarded with a goal coming with just 16 seconds remaining as Lafferty had a clear lane to the net and blasted a shot stick-side that beat Skinner for his career-best 13th goal of the season. J.T. Miller picked up an assist to extend his points streak to 10 games.

The Canucks went up 2-0 with nine minutes to play in the second period as Tyler Myers sent a puck toward the net that was deftly deflected by Suter for his 14th.

Edmonton finally got one past DeSmith with 2:12 to play in the middle frame as Darnell Nurse threw a long shot on net that was deflected home by Kane for his 24th of the season.

The Oilers pushed hard to equal things up but a poorly-timed attempt to pull Skinner for an extra attacker allowed Joshua an easy empty-netter for his 17th.

NOTES

It was the fourth and final meeting between the two Canadian clubs, with the previous three occurring during Edmonton disastrous first five weeks of the season. Vancouver won their home opener over Edmonton in the first game of the campaign 8-1. They then won 4-3 in Edmonton’s home opener, and then dispatched the Oilers 6-2 a few weeks later in Vancouver. … Star Oilers forward Connor McDavid missed his third straight game with a lower-body injury, but is still considered day-to-day. The Oilers captain is stuck at 99 assists on the season, needing only one to become just the fourth player in NHL history to hit 100. … Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko missed his 14th straight game despite being a full participant in the Canucks morning skate on Saturday. … At plus-36, the Canucks have the best first period goal differential in the league. … Oilers defenceman Mattias Ekholm has an NHL-best plus-69 rating since coming to Edmonton via trade on March 1, 2023.

UP NEXT

Canucks: Host the Calgary Flames on Tuesday.

Oilers: Host the San Jose Sharks on Monday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 13, 2024.

Shane Jones, The Canadian Press