‘We’re back in it’: Pickard wins, Oilers tie series 2-2

'We're back in it': Pickard wins, Oilers tie series 2-2

EDMONTON, Alberta — Evan Bouchard scored the game-deciding goal with 38.1 seconds in regulation, making a winner of goaltender Calvin Pickard in his playoff starting debut, and the Edmonton Oilers edged the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 in Game 4 of their second-round playoff series on Tuesday.

The victory leveled the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series at 2-2, with Game 5 set for Thursday night in Vancouver.

Leon Draisaitl opened the scoring for the Oilers on a first-period power play and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins added a tally late in the second period.

After replacing Stuart Skinner during Game 3, Pickard made 19 saves in his first postseason start, while Arturs Silovs stopped 27 of 30 shots for Vancouver.

“It was a tough bounce for sure. I guess both goals were tough bounces,” Pickard told SportsNet after the win, regarding the two tallies he allowed, both in the third period. “But it didn’t deflate us. … We weren’t playing for overtime (after the second goal). We were going right after it after that goal. So (Bouchard’s was) a great goal. And we’re back in it.”

The 32-year-old Pickard received plenty of standing ovations after saves Tuesday, adding to a dramatic week that began with him replacing Skinner, who allowed four goals on 15 shots in Edmonton’s Game 3 loss on Sunday.

“The guys made it easy on me,” Pickard said. “We had three big penalty kills in the first period, which was huge. I got some touches early, and I felt comfortable. So, it’s just one game, and we’re moving on to Vancouver.”

Conor Garland and Dakota Joshua had third-period goals for the Canucks, who lost their first road game of the postseason after no being able to solve Pickard after Bouchard’s tally.

“Unbelievable,” Draisaitl said of Pickard’s performance. “What an awesome guy, what an awesome story. All year, he’s given us a chance to win. And every time he goes in there, it seems like he’s standing on his head.”

Connor McDavid sliced a blistering pass to Draisaitl and the German forward ripped a one-timer past Silovs from the bottom of the right faceoff circle. The goalie got his glove on the shot but the puck bobbled and popped into the net to put the Oilers up 1-0 at the 11:10 mark.

The tally extended Draisaitl’s point streak to all nine of Edmonton’s post-season games, with eight goals and 12 assists across the stretch. He leads the league in playoff points.

The Oilers continued to push in the second but once again found themselves stymied by Silovs.

A missed hit created a two-on-one opportunity for the Oilers with less than a minute left in the second period.

Mattias Ekholm picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and when Juulsen went to bump him off, the veteran defenseman dished off to Nugent-Hopkins. The centerman streaked up the ice and blasted a shot over Silovs’ stick to give Edmonton a 2-0 lead with 39.8 seconds left in the period.

“We played too good of a game to not win this one,” Ekholm said. “It was something that, at least I was feeling out there, that we were going to get them. … It was really nice to see (Bouchard’s goal) go in.”

Garland finally got a puck past Pickard 6:54 into the third when he unleashed a blast from the top of the slot, cutting Vancouver’s deficit to 2-1 with his second postseason goal.

The Canucks pulled Silovs with 2:38 to go in favor of an extra attacker and the Canucks took advantage.

Brock Boeser collected a pass from Quinn Hughes, waited a moment for his opportunity, then threw a shot toward the Edmonton net and the puck bounced in off Joshua’s skate with 1:41 left in the third.

The Oilers refused to relent and Bouchard snapped a shot in with 38.1 seconds left on the clock, pinging the puck in off Silovs’ stick for his fourth of the playoffs.

Canucks defenseman Carson Soucy sat out for a one-game suspension for cross-checking Connor McDavid after the final buzzer in Game 3. Noah Juulsen took his spot in the lineup.

“The mantra the entire year is not getting too high or low,” Hughes said. “We’ll be ready to go Game 5.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.