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Pickard gets another chance to step off the bench and beat Canucks

Edmonton reveals usual backup will start again against Vancouver in Game 5
Edmonton Oilers goalie Calvin Pickard (30) and Connor McDavid (97) celebrate the win over the Vancouver Canucks during second-round NHL playoff action in Edmonton on Tuesday May 14, 2024.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

The Canucks and Oilers are taking different approaches to their lineups ahead of Thursday’s pivotal Game 5.

The Oilers are opting to stick with Calvin Pickard as their starting goalie after the journeyman netminder stopped 19 shots in Edmonton’s 3-2 victory on Tuesday.

“I thought he looked really comfortable the other day,” Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch said after Thursday’s morning skate. “He just made some solid saves, played the puck really well. … He made all the right decisions and made some big saves for us throughout the night.”

Pickard also played the third period of the Oilers’ 4-3 loss in Game 3, replacing Stuart Skinner, who allowed four goals on 15 shots.

Skinner has a 2-1-0 record with a .793 save percentage and a 4.00 goals-against average in the series against Vancouver.

The Canucks, meanwhile, will juggle their lineup after head coach Rick Tocchet expressed disappointment in several of his players.

“We’ve been a resilient group all year,” Tocchet said after Game 4. “But we need five or six guys to get going here. I mean, it’s the Stanley Cup playoffs. Some guys, I don’t know if they thought it was the playoffs. We can’t play with 12 guys. We’ve got to figure it out quick.”

Forwards Ilya Mikheyev, Sam Lafferty and Linus Karlsson all appear poised to come out of the lineup Thursday while Phillip Di Giusseppe and Nils Hoglander will return, and Vasily Podkolzin will make his NHL playoff debut.

Hoglander is expected to play on a line with Elias Lindholm and Elias Pettersson, while Di Giusseppe and Podkolzin will skate alongside centre Nils Aman.

Tocchet said after Vancouver’s morning skate that he wants better puck possession and forechecking from his players.

“There are plays there to be made,” he said. “We’re not making them. And I think we’ve got to be a little more aggressive when we’re making those plays.”

The best-of-seven series is tied at 2-2 with Game 6 set for Saturday in Edmonton.

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