The Oilers visit the Canucks in Vancouver on Saturday to close out their 2015-16 season. The game will be broadcast on CBC beginning at 8 p.m. MT, or you can listen live on 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.
EDMONTON, AB – The Oilers gave their fans something to cheer about in their final game at Rexall Place, with the home team scoring three unanswered goals in the second period on their way to a 6-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.
The Oilers had almost 200 alumni in attendance, in addition to a sold-out crowd, as they bid farewell to Rexall Place before moving to Rogers Place downtown in the fall. This current Oilers roster may have started slow, but they sure finished strong.
With the home team being outshot 5-0 in the opening eight minutes, Edmonton centre Connor McDavid was called for hooking. The Canucks power play went to work but so did the Oilers penalty kill, which limited the Canucks possession and prevented any shots against. That allowed McDavid to spring free from the box and join an Oilers rush.
McDavid centred a pass into the slot for Andrej Sekera, who jumped up offensively and backhanded a shot on Jacob Markstrom. The Oilers didn’t score, but Sekera drew a slashing penalty and they themselves went on a power play. Unfortunately, the Oilers couldn’t capitalize on that opportunity and the game remained scoreless.
On a 4-on-3 power play in the final minutes of the first, McDavid set up Jordan Eberle backdoor but the winger couldn’t quite handle the puck, fanning on the point-blank attempt.
Then, in the trailing seconds of the frame, the Oilers had a few looks at the net but still couldn’t break Markstrom. The Canucks goalie locked down the post as Taylor Hall snapped a shot from the side of the net with roughly five seconds remaining in the period.
“Not every start is going to be perfect, but as long as you bend but don’t break, make sure you stay in the game, make sure it’s tied and then you’re going to get your footing.” said Hall. “I think early on it was just about not shooting the puck. We simplified it as the game went on and sure enough, we got some goals.”
6:28 into the second period, Lauri Korpikoski centred for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in front to give Edmonton one of their best scoring chances of the game to that point. The Oilers centre missed the target.
Nail Yakupov hit his target at 8:27 of the second, giving Edmonton a 1-0 lead. Yakupov let rip a shot from the faceoff dot and it found twine past Markstrom’s glove. The goal was assisted by Mark Fayne.
The Oilers made it 2-0, sending the Rexall Place crowd into fits, when Patrick Maroon took a turnover in the slot and promptly potted it in the back of the Canucks net at 13:16 of the middle frame.
As McDavid got a step on Nikita Tryamkin, and nearly had a breakaway, he was tackled to the ice and drew a penalty at 16:21 of the second. That power play proved more productive than the Oilers previous attempts. McDavid, again, set up Eberle backdoor. Markstrom made a great sliding save, but McDavid was waiting in the slot for the rebound and he buried his 16th of the season.
The Canucks finally got on the board at 5:21 of the third. A long-range shot from above the circle by Matt Bartowski found its way past Cam Talbot.
Maroon scored his second of the night at 9:08 of the final frame, redirecting an Eberle pass through Markstrom short side. McDavid earned the second assist on the goal. Maroon now has seven goals and 13 points in 15 games for the Oilers since being acquired at the NHL Trade Deadline.
“I think he needs a good off-season,” said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. “I definitely think he needs that. His fresh start, he’s really taken advantage of it, not just scoring wise but fitting in with the team… There’s players that play on your fourth line that can’t go up and always complement the higher end skill, the Connor-end skill. Patty can, so that’s a nice attribute to have to move him around the lineup. The one thing he’s done, he’s proven in the playoffs when it gets tougher and tighter he can score. He had seven or eight goals last year and it’s a real positive thing for us moving forward.”
Hall made it 5-1 for the Oilers 18 seconds later when he drove to the net and went forehand-backhand for his 26th goal of the season. Adam Pardy and Iiro Pakarinen recorded the assists.
Canucks centre Bo Horvat did his best Hall impersonation, going to the net and scoring to make it 5-2.
Leon Draisaitl put the exclamation point on the victory with a power-play goal at 18:03 of the final period. He one-touched a Hall pass from down low to make it 6-2. That will be the final Oilers goal in the history of Rexall Place.
Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse left the game in the first after taking a puck to the throat and did not return. The Oilers play this same opponent on Saturday at 8 p.m. MT in Vancouver. Saturday’s game marks the end of the 2015-16 season for both Edmonton and Vancouver, who plays in Calgary tomorrow night.