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Canucks must ‘want that big moment’ heading into decisive Game 7: coach

Edmonton outshot Vancouver 27-15 during their win Saturday
Vancouver Canucks’ Brock Boeser (6) and Edmonton Oilers’ Evan Bouchard (2) battle for the puck during first period second-round NHL playoff action in Edmonton on Saturday May 18, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

All season long, the Vancouver Canucks have preached resilience.

Now comes the ultimate test.

After an ugly 5-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday, the Canucks need to once again showcase their ability to bounce back as the two teams prepare for a decisive Game 7 Monday in the second-round playoff series.

The two sides are now tied at 3-3 in the best-of-seven matchup.

“Our job right now is we got to flush this game,” said head coach Rick Tocchet. “Obviously some guys know that they need to play better. And you’ve got 48 hours to get your energy back. That’s just the way it is.

“It’s a Game 7. People would kill to be in this situation right now. And we’ve got to act like we want to be in that situation.”

Closing out a series against the Oilers was never going to be easy, said Canucks right-winger Brock Boeser. It took Vancouver two chances to eliminate the Nashville Predators in round one, he noted.

“I think we knew this (second round) was going to be a hard series from the start and it’s gone back and forth,” he said. “I think that’s the beauty of playoff hockey. We’ve got to forget about this one, focus on playing better next game and bringing that effort.”

Vancouver hasn’t lost back-to-back games since March 25 and 28, but the stakes haven’t been higher this season either.

Monday’s winner will face the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference final. The loser will be eliminated from the playoffs.

Vancouver needs to treat Game 7 like any other game and as a great opportunity, said Canucks captain Quinn Hughes.

“If you told us we’d have this opportunity in September, we probably would have taken it. We probably would have taken it three or four weeks ago as well,” he said. “We’ll be excited.”

The Canucks know they had room for improvement Saturday.

Edmonton outshot Vancouver 27-15, and the Oilers blocked another 12 attempts. The Canucks also had 25 shots miss the net.

READ ALSO: Bouchard has 3 points, Oilers roll over Canucks 5-1 to force Game 7

“I mean, it’s not a recipe for success,” Elias Pettersson said of his team’s shot total. “Obviously we’ve won games when we have not many shots. But it is what it is. They won today. It’s a seven-game series for a reason. I’ll focus on that.”

The Oilers also smothered the Canucks’ power play once again, with Vancouver going 0-for-4 with the man advantage. The Canucks haven’t scored on their last 12 power plays going back to Game 3.

“Obviously not good enough,” Hughes said. “And we’re going to have to be ready to go. We want to be at our best when it really matters. And we’re going to need to do that.”

A veteran of 145 NHL playoff games during his time as a player, Tocchet is well aware of what it takes to win in tough situations.

He wants his players to stick together heading into Monday’s game. He wants them to take short shifts and play with desperation.

“These are big moments and you’re looking for guys to want it, want that big moment. Don’t be scared of it. Go after it. That’s my advice to everybody,” the coach said.

“There’s a lot of players and teams that are going to be watching that game. I think we play the game as players to be on that stage. Play like you want to be a hero on Monday. That’s what I think.”

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press