VANCOUVER -- The Edmonton Oilers waited an entire season for the opportunity presented to them in Game 5 of the Western Conference Second Round at Rogers Arena on Thursday, and again came up short.

A 3-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks has the Oilers on the brink of elimination, down 3-2 in the best-of-7 series, just like they were in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs before they bowed out to the Vegas Golden Knights in six games in the second round.

The Oilers need to win Game 6 against the Canucks at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; CBC, TVAS, SN, ESPN) to force Game 7 here Monday.

“We didn’t win last year’s Game 6 and we’ll learn from that, I guess, I don’t know,” Edmonton captain Connor McDavid said. “We have to be ready to go, that’s what it is.”

There were a lot of similarities between the game against Vancouver and the one against Vegas on May 12, 2023, with Edmonton going in tied 2-2 in both instances.

The Oilers jumped out to a 2-1 lead against the Canucks, just as they had against the Golden Knights, but instead of conceding three goals in a span of 1:29 in the second period in a 4-3 loss, they gave up the tying goal to Vancouver 5:14 into the second and the winner with 33 seconds remaining in the third.

The Canucks outshot the Oilers 35-17 in the game and 17-4 in the second to take control and never give it back. Edmonton has trailed three times in the series: 1-0, 2-1 and now 3-2.

“You look at every game a little bit different,” Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch said. “There’s games in this series that I felt that we should have won and not coming up with a win and that happens, that’s hockey. We’re playing a good team, so let’s not take for granted that we should be up in this series and it’s going to be easy. Yeah, we’re down 3-2, could easily be up, but we’re in our situation now.”

Last season, the Oilers were unable to climb out of the hole and lost Game 6 to the Golden Knights 5-2. Vegas went on to win the Stanley Cup, just as the Colorado Avalanche did in the 2022 postseason when they swept Edmonton out of the Western Conference Final.

The Oilers have been a strong bounce-back team all season but will be playing from the edge of a cliff Saturday for the first time in the playoffs. Edmonton defeated the Los Angeles Kings in five games in the opening round.

“When you don’t have the puck, it looks like you’re chasing the game and (Saturday) we want to have the puck a lot more, want to make more plays,” Knoblauch said. “We just want to play faster, quicker, be a little more competitive. The guys are trying, and I think the defensive details are there, but I think the biggest things we want to take out of this is that we just have to be making plays and when we’re making plays and we possess the puck, that’s when we’re the strongest.”

Edmonton had plenty of opportunities to pull away Thursday after a quick start, but its potent power play fell silent, finishing 0-for-5. The Canucks were energized by the penalty kill and hemmed the Oilers in their own zone for the second half of the game.

“We play best when we’re skating, getting the puck behind them and taking control of the pace,” Edmonton forward Zach Hyman said. “Obviously, that wasn’t the case in the second and I thought we started to find our game in the third, but then they got the late one there.”

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The Oilers looked like a tired group in the second period and parts of the third. McDavid did not have his usual jump and was held off the score sheet for the second time in the past three games. He has one assist in three games after a four-point performance in a 4-3 overtime win in Game 2.

McDavid played 28:12 in Game 2 and 29:42 in Game 3, a 4-3 loss. Leon Draisaitl played 27:05 in Game 2 and 29:04 in Game 3. Knoblauch was asked if the heavy workload might be catching up to his two All-Star forwards.

“No, I think they can handle the high minutes,” Knoblauch said. “They’re not practicing in between games; I think they recover. We get all the information from our sports scientists who give us that. In the past [the sports scientist] has been cautious in the regular season about people being tired and worn down, and we never got any of that information.”

The 35 shots on goal were the most Vancouver has generated this postseason. The Oilers outshot the Canucks 31-19 in Game 2, 45-18 in Game 3 and 30-21 in Game 4.

It was rare for Edmonton to be on the back foot in this series, but Hyman said fatigue was not a factor in Game 5.

“This is what you play for the entire year, this is what you train for in summertime, to be able to handle these minutes and we’re fine,” he said. “I think we just have to go back home, win a game and then go from there.”

Edmonton has not lost consecutive games in these playoffs, and the only consecutive games it lost last postseason were to Vegas in Games 5 and 6.

Yet, McDavid is confident the Oilers can extend the series and bring it back here.

“We’re good at bouncing back,” McDavid said. “We’ve always said that, we’ve always been confident in that and I would expect the same.”

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