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DeSmith stops 32 shots and Canucks sweep season series with 3-1 win over Oilers

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Casey DeSmith made 32 saves and the Vancouver Canucks strengthened their lead atop the Pacific Division with a 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night.

“We’ve been working to trend back to our top level as a group and I thought that was a really good effort by us,” said Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers, who had an assist. “I didn’t think we tried to force things, we let the game come to us as a team and it was a great team win.”

Sam Lafferty, Pius Suter and Dakota Joshua scored for the Canucks, who won all four games between the teams this season. Vancouver has a five-point lead in the division over Edmonton, which still has an extremely slight chance with three games remaining to Vancouver’s two.

“We knew this was a four-point swing toward that goal that we had,” DeSmith said. “It’s not the ultimate goal that we have this season, but it’s definitely something we’ve been working toward and it’s something we take pride in.”

Evander Kane scored for the Oilers, who were again without captain Connor McDavid, who missed his third straight game with a lower-body injury and is considered day-to-day. Stuart Skinner had 24 saves.

“It was a competitive game, two teams getting ready for playoffs,” Oilers forward Warren Foegele said. “We knew this was an important game. We’re just trying to play the right way heading into playoffs. I thought we played strong. Disappointed we didn’t get the two points.”

The Oilers were 21 points behind the Canucks in the Pacific Division standings in late November, so pulling so close was an accomplishment in its own right.

“Considering where we were at the start of the year, to be locked into a playoff spot and have home ice secured, I think we would have taken that,” Oilers forward Zach Hyman said. “And with still time left, we’ll see what happens, but I think we’re in a great spot.”

Lafferty scored with just 16 seconds remaining in the first period when he 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 Myers sent a puck toward the net that was deflected in by Suter.

Kane scored with 2:12 to play in the second period, deflecting Darnell Nurse's long shot on net.

The Oilers pushed hard to pull even but a poorly-timed attempt to pull Skinner for an extra attacker allowed Joshua an easy empty-netter with less than two minutes to play.

Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko missed his 14th straight game despite being a full participant in the Canucks morning skate on Saturday.

UP NEXT

Canucks: Host Calgary on Tuesday night in their regular-season home finale.

Oilers: Host San Jose on Monday night to finish a four-game homestand and their regular season home schedule.

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AP NHL: https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL

The Associated Press