3Keys VAN-EDM game 6

(1P) Canucks at (2P) Oilers

Western Conference Second Round, Game 6

8 p.m. ET; CBC, TVAS, SN, ESPN

Vancouver leads best-of-7 series 3-2

EDMONTON -- The Vancouver Canucks can advance to the Western Conference Final for the first time since 2011 with a win against the Edmonton Oilers in Game 6 of the Western Conference Second Round at Rogers Place on Saturday.

“This is going to be the hardest game we’re ever going to play, until the next game,” Canucks coach Rick Tocchet said Saturday. “It’s never easy, I don’t care how well you’re playing, the hardest game is the next game.”

Vancouver took the series lead with a 3-2 win at home in Game 5 on Friday. Center J.T. Miller scored the winning goal with 33 seconds left in the third period to break a 2-2 tie.

The Canucks can reach the Western Conference Final for the first time in 13 years; they defeated the San Jose Sharks in the 2011 conference final before losing to the Boston Bruins in seven games in the Stanley Cup Final.

Miller, tied with forward Brock Boeser for the Vancouver playoff scoring lead, has 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in 11 postseason games and has been matched up against Edmonton’s top line centered by Connor McDavid. Miller has helped limit McDavid to one assist in the past three games.

“I think he’s one of the best forechecking centermen in the league,” Tocchet said of Miller. “He challenged himself that he basically wanted to become a better defensive player. I think he’s chipped away at that and he’s grown immensely in that role, without taking offense away.”

Stuart Skinner will start in goal for the Oilers after not having played since being pulled after the second period in Game 3. Skinner has allowed 12 goals on 58 shots in three games in this series with a 4.40 goals-against average and .793 save percentage.

“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.”

Here are 3 keys for Game 6:

Miller, Canucks aim to close out series in Game 6

1. The return of Skinner

Edmonton is taking its last stand with Skinner, their No. 1 goalie throughout the regular season and the first eight games of the postseason.

Skinner was 36-16-5 with a 2.62 GAA and .905 save percentage for the Oilers in the regular season, but was replaced by Calvin Pickard after the second period of Game 3, a 4-3 loss. Pickard started Games 4 and 5.

Skinner is 5-3 in the playoffs with a 3.22 GAA and .877 save percentage.

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

Skinner, who became the undisputed top goalie for the Oilers when Jack Campbell was assigned to Bakersfield of the NHL on Nov. 7, started an NHL career-high 57 games this season.

“I thought he got back to work," Edmonton captain Connor 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.”

2. Closers' mentality

The Canucks needed two games to eliminate the Nashville Predators in the first round after taking a 3-1 lead in the series. Vancouver was unable to close out the series in Game 5 at home and had to return to Nashville for Game 6, where they advanced with a 1-0 win.

Canucks coach Rick Tocchet said his team can learn from that.

“I think you can always have experiences you can draw from,” Tocchet said. “You try to give a little bit of wisdom. You talk to certain guys, we talked to a few groups of guys, and I think it’s important that you share some stories in these kinds of situations and how you deal with them.”

Tocchet said his players need to keep the picture small going into Game 6.

“For me it’s always short-term, your first shift, your first period, you can’t think of anything else,” he said. “You start letting things in your head, then you start playing on your heels and you’re watching, you’re pausing. I think you just have to worry about your first shift and your first period.”

3. Bouncing back

The Oilers looked tired in Game 5, outshot 35-23 and spending most of the second and third period defending.

“I didn’t think we played our best game and I thought they played real well in Game 5,” McDavid said. “With that being said, in Game 6, I think we’re going to play real well.”

Edmonton was 0-for-5 on the power play in Game 5, the first time it had not scored a goal on the man-advantage in 10 playoff games this season.

“We have a strong belief in our team,” Oilers forward Zach Hyman said. “Whenever we have our backs against the wall and are facing adversity, I like our chances.”

Canucks projected lineup

Pius Suter -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser

Nils Hoglander -- Elias Lindholm -- Elias Pettersson

Dakota Joshua -- Teddy Blueger -- Conor Garland

Phil Di Giuseppe -- Nils Aman -- Vasily Podkolzin

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Carson Soucy -- Tyler Myers

Nikita Zadorov -- Ian Cole

Arturs Silovs

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Mark Friedman, Noah Juulsen, Linus Karlsson, Sam Lafferty, Ilya Mikheyev, Christian Wolanin

Injured: Thatcher Demko (undisclosed)

Oilers projected lineup

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- Connor McDavid -- Zach Hyman

Dylan Holloway -- Leon Draisaitl -- Evander Kane

Warren Foegele -- Ryan McLeod -- Corey Perry

Mattias Janmark -- Derek Ryan -- Connor Brown

Mattias Ekholm -- Evan Bouchard

Darnell Nurse -- Vincent Desharnais

Brett Kulak -- Cody Ceci

Stuart Skinner

Calvin Pickard

Scratched: Sam Carrick, Sam Gagner, Troy Stecher

Injured: Adam Henrique (lower body)

Status report

The Canucks held a well-attended optional morning skate Saturday and were not expected to make any lineup changes following a 3-2 win in Game 5.

NHL.com independent correspondent Gerry Moddejonge contributed to this report