EDM celebration Game 7 postgame

VANCOUVER -- The Edmonton Oilers needed a full team effort to defeat the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference Second Round, and coach Kris Knoblauch acknowledged it will take something similar to get past the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Final.

The Oilers advanced to play the Stars with a 3-2 win in Game 7 of the second round against the Canucks at Rogers Arena on Monday and will open the next series with Game 1 at American Airlines Center in Dallas on Thursday (8:30 p.m. ET; MAX, truTV, TNT, SN, TVAS, CBC).

“If we have a chance to beat the Dallas Stars, we’re going to need everybody contributing,” Knoblauch said following the Game 7 win. “We can’t rely on one or two lines, one or two pairs of defensemen or just one goaltender. It’s going to be a solid team effort if we want an opportunity to do that. What we saw in the last few games in this series gives me optimism that we should be doing OK against that team and I’m looking forward to getting going on Thursday.”

Edmonton battled back from a 3-2 deficit in the best-of-7 series against Vancouver with a dominating performance in Game 6 and a strong effort in Game 7. Knoblauch deployed his lineup in a more balanced manner in the final two games of the series than he had early on, playing forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl nearly 30 minutes each in Games 2 and 3.

McDavid played 20:31 on Monday, a low for him in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He did not have a point in Game 7, while Draisaitl played 17:37 and had an assist.

“I think everyone contributed very well,” Knoblauch said. “Our bottom guys on the penalty kill, that’s mostly third or fourth-line guys. That penalty that we had in the first period (high-sticking double minor to forward Ryan McLeod), that was about as good as we could play in the first period.

“I thought we played really well and that could have been a turning point in the game, and our penalty kill, like it has been for almost all the playoffs, has been really solid. I thought we played a solid team game.”

The Oilers were 1-2-0 against Dallas this season. They lost 4-3 in Edmonton on Nov. 2, won 4-3 in overtime in Dallas on Feb. 17, and were shut out 5-0 on April 3 in Dallas.

“We played three times throughout the year, we know that they're a deep team obviously,” Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said. “That’s in a few days. We’ll process this and move on to them, but against anybody at this point you need everybody going and I think all series we had four lines rolling, six D going, two goalies when we needed two. So, I mean, it shows a lot that everybody can get the job done.”

This is the second time in three seasons Edmonton is going to the conference final. The Oilers were swept out of the 2022 Western Conference Final by the Colorado Avalanche, who went on to win the Stanley Cup.

This time around, Edmonton seems more prepared to battle for a spot in the Stanley Cup Final.

“I think some of the games we played against Colorado could have went the other way too,” Draisaitl said. “Definitely over the years you mature and you earn this situation and learn from those situations. Obviously, we’re looking to give it another shot and be more successful than last time.”

The Oilers were pushed by the Canucks, who did a good job defensively against their top offensive players, bolstered by their goalie Arturs Silovs filling in admirably for Thatcher Demko, who was out with an undisclosed injury.

Edmonton dominated territorially at times, but won all but one game in the series by one goal. McDavid expects the series against Dallas to be equally as tight.

“They’re a great team, too. It’s the conference finals, you're going to have to play a great team and they certainly are,” McDavid said. “They’re deep, they’re as deep a team as you’re going to find in the NHL. Four lines, six [defensemen], they got a great goaltender. It will be a great test, but we're looking forward to it.”

While the Oilers' top two lines generated most of the offense against the Canucks, Edmonton did get timely contributions from its role players.

Defenseman Cody Ceci scored in Game 1 and opened the scoring in Game 7. Fourth-line forward Mattias Janmark scored a goal in a 3-2 loss in Game 5 and rookie Dylan Holloway scored a highlight-reel goal in Game 6.

“We’re a deep team, too,” McDavid said. “I know our top guys get a lot of attention, but we’re a real deep team. I thought we used all 12 forwards tonight, trying to win the third period, and all game long. Both in Games 6 and 7, I thought we used all 12 forwards and all 6 D-men, and we used both goalies in this series. So, we're a deep team, just like Dallas is.”

The Oilers returned to Edmonton on Monday following the win and Knoblauch said preparation for Dallas would begin on the flight.

“We were concentrating on this series and I’m going to get my laptop on the plane and will be diving into Dallas right away,” Knoblauch said. “We don’t have quite as much time as we did to get ready for Vancouver (one week), which I think is good. I think we had too much time where we were overthinking things. We’ll get back at it, we’re playing some good hockey and I think it’s good for us.”