It’s a long and winding road that leads to the door of the NHL playoffs.
After the conclusion of every regular season, the league’s elite 16 conduct a battle for the most illustrious trophy in sport.
On Monday night, the Edmonton Oilers knocked on that door and walked through it.
The Oilers secured a berth in the Stanley Cup playoffs, after topping the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena 5-3.
“We’ve got a shot at winning the Stanley Cup,” Oilers defenceman Tyson Barrie said after the game.
It took less than four minutes for the Oilers to take the lead. Edmonton forward Jesse Puljujarvi notched his 13th goal of the season, finishing off a passing play with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
Nate Schmidt scored for Canucks later in the first, evening things up after one.
The Oilers didn’t wait long to respond, with Barrie putting Edmonton back in front by tucking in a rebound 18 ticks into the second.
McDavid notched his 30th of the season when his wrist shot went through Canucks goaltender Braden Holtby and skittered over the goal line.
The Canucks responded quickly after, with J.T. Miller bringing it to 3-2 just 43 seconds later.
But just before the period ran out, Dominik Kahun came right back with a one-timer in the final minute of the first. Dmitry Kulikov picked up an assist on Kahun’s goal for his first point with the Oilers, as Edmonton took a 4-2 lead into the third period.
Canucks forward Brock Boeser scored off a faceoff win with 3:27 to go in the third.
McDavid put it away with an empty-netter with one minute to go.
The Oilers captain may not be thinking about 100 points all that much, but it’s increasingly looking he’ll hit that impressive mark after his two-goal, two-assist effort Monday night.
The 24-year-old has a jaw-dropping 91 points in 50 games this season, with 20 of them coming in his last seven games.
“It’s a number,” McDavid said after the game. “If I get there, great. If not, it’s not the end of the world either.”
For now though, McDavid is glad to have clinched a spot in the playoffs and so is his head coach.
“I give our guys credit,” said Dave Tippett. “The goal was to make sure we’re a playoff team and that’s what we’ve accomplished.”
Oilers netminder Mikko Koskinen made 20 saves to improve to 12-11.
The Oilers and Canucks will play again Tuesday night. It’s on 630 CHED with the Faceoff Show at 6 p.m. The game starts at 8 p.m.
–With files from 630 CHED’s David Boles
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