Skinner EDM to start game 6 TUNE IN

EDMONTON -- Stuart Skinner started for the Edmonton Oilers against the Vancouver Canucks in Game 6 of the Western Conference Second Round at Rogers Place on Saturday.

Skinner, the Oilers No. 1 goalie this season, has not played since he allowed four goals on 15 shots in a 4-3 loss in Game 3. He allowed 12 goals on 58 shots in the first three games of the series (4.40 goals-against average, .793 save percentage).

The Canucks lead the best-of-7 series 3-2.

“I’m excited to get back in the net," Skinner said Saturday. "I’m excited to get to do my job again.”

Calvin Pickard made 19 saves to help Edmonton to a 3-2 victory in Game 4, then allowed three goals on 35 shots, including the game-winner with 33 seconds remaining in regulation, in a 3-2 loss in Game 5.

“It was tough just because you want to be in there," Skinner said. "But at the same time, I was just ecstatic for Calvin. He played incredibly, the guys played really well. He got us tied at 2-2 (in the series) and he got his job done.

“Any type of situation like that, it’s difficult. I’ve been working on my mental game for a long time here. It’s just another experience where I got to work on some more stuff mentally. So being able to kind of throw that frustration down and just be the best teammate that I could possibly be, I had a lot of fun and was able to get my work in. Really good for me."

Skinner played well for the Oilers in their first-round series win against the Los Angeles Kings, going 4-1 with a 2.59 GAA, .910 save percentage and one shutout.

"We felt that Stu had a couple of days to reset, take some time away, evaluate his game and think about some things," Edmonton coach Kris Knoblauch said, "but also spend some time on the ice getting back and finding his game, and we’ve seen Stu play unbelievable, play really well, steal some games and play just solid.

"He’s been our guy all year and in a situation like this, that’s who we want in net."

The 25-year-old was 36-16-5 this season with a 2.62 GAA, .905 save percentage and two shutouts in 59 games (57 starts). He set NHL career highs in games, starts and wins.

“A lot of guys came up to me and just gave me their support," Skinner said. "They all told me I’d get back into the cage at some point here, and that obviously I’m a really important piece in all this. So I’m not getting too down on myself and just really taking this as an opportunity to get better and work on my game and take some time off.”

Oilers captain Connor McDavid said Skinner has been putting in a lot of extra time over the past few days.

“I thought he got back to work," McDavid said, "not to say that he wasn’t working hard before, but I saw him watching some video and working hard at practice and stuff like that. So whenever he’s doing that I expect him to play well.”

The victor in the series between Edmonton and Vancouver will face the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Final; the Stars advanced after eliminating the Colorado Avalanche with a 2-1 double-overtime win in Game 6 of the second round on Friday. staff writer Derek Van Diest and independent correspondent Gerry Moddejonge contributed to this report