Game 6 rout doesn't mean Edmonton Oilers have solved Canuck riddle

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The

Edmonton Oilers versus the Vancouver Canucks

is getting what it, and everyone watching it, deserves.

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A Game 7.

This compelling theatre of epic momentum shifts, dramatic mood swings and last-second heroics all comes down to one final act Monday evening in Vancouver. And despite six games worth of hard evidence, we have no way of knowing how this thing is going to turn out.

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The two best teams in Canada are answering each other punch for punch

After Vancouver held Edmonton without a shot for over 20 minutes to win Game 1, the Oilers respond by outshooting Vancouver 15-2 in the third period to win Game 2.

After Evan Bouchard scored with 39 seconds left to win Game 4, J.T. Miller responded by scoring with 33 seconds left to win Game 5.

After five one-goal games there was nothing to choose between them.

And then came

Game 6

.

The Oilers seemed on the verge of a night like that in Game 3, where they outshot Vancouver 45-18, hit four goal posts, and somehow lost 4-3. This time they connected on their chances and ran Vancouver out of the rink.

Have they finally broken through?

After five games of missing chances, hitting iron and being stymied by a Cinderella netminder, is Edmonton ready to pull away for good?

Has the law of averages caught up with a Vancouver team that’s been outshot 174 to 132?

Or was that just human nature talking?

While Edmonton was fighting for survival at home in Game 6, the Canucks knew they had a Game 7 insurance policy in their back pocket. They knew they had one more life to give.

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That scenario often makes a big difference. Anybody remember the 2006 Stanley Cup Final against Carolina? They Oilers were trailing the series 3-1 and won Game 5 in Carolina and trounced the Hurricanes 4-0 in Game 6 at Rexall Place, holding the visitors to seven shots through 40 minutes.

It wasn’t even close. Edmonton had finally broken through.

Then along came Game 7 and the rest is misery.

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So as much as some people might like to think Vancouver’s carriage has turned into a pumpkin, dominating Game 6 might not mean anything in a fresh slate Game 7.

“We all are pumped about the way we played, but we need to have short memories,” said Dylan Holloway, the dynamic young winger who arrived just in time to fill out Edmonton’s top six.

“Momentum doesn’t really carry over from game to game, we’ve got to focus on the next game, get off to a good start and just play the way we can.”

The Canucks have had their moments, too, after all. They shut Edmonton down in Game 1 and looked great in controlling the Oilers in Game 5. There is no reason to think they can’t get there again.

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“I think the belief is in this room,” said Vancouver’s Brock Boeser. “Obviously, we can play better and we all know that. We’ll regroup and look at what we can do better. It’s just going to come down to who wants it more next game.”

“No one said it was going to be easy, but we’ll get another chance on Monday to win one game to make the conference final,” added Elias Pettersson. “I’m excited for it. I know the barn’s going to be loud, the fans are going to be into it and those are the type of games you want to play.”

For the first time, Edmonton is going to see what Vancouver looks like when they’re facing elimination and they know full well what kind of boost that’s going to provide.

“I’m sure Vancouver doesn’t feel great about their game (Saturday) and they’ll be better for Game 7, just like we didn’t like our Game 5 and we were better in Game 6,” said Connor McDavid. “I expect both teams to elevate heading into a big Game 7 obviously.”

We’ve seen the Oilers in this situation many times, whether it was saving their season in November or putting together a 16-game winning streak in January. This team can look underwhelming at times but when it really matters they are wicked good.

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They will need to get to that level again because a 3-7 record against Vancouver this year tells you it’s going to be a hard night.

“A lot of guys have been in this situation before and you have to ride the highs and lows of the playoffs and just try and stay as even-keeled as possible,” said defenceman Darnell Nurse. “We gave ourselves the chance to play one more game and we have to bring the same mindset to Vancouver on Monday.”

Canucks coach Rick Tocchet summed it up best. His advice to the Canucks applies to both teams.

“It’s a Game 7, people would kill to be in this situation right now and we’ve got to make sure that we act like we want to be in that situation,” he said. “Play like you want to be a hero on Monday, that’s what I think.”

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