Player grades: Evan Bouchard sprinkles his magic over Edmonton Oilers' 3-2 win over Vancouver Canucks

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The Edmonton Oilers finally brought their “A” game in beating the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 on Tuesday night.

The Oilers got the better of almost all aspects of play, scoring one power play goal, killing off three Vancouver power plays, defending well and scoring two even strength goals, matching Vancouver in that category. Calvin Pickard was also solid in net, but not quite so spectacular as Arturs Silovs of Vancouver.

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But Silovs was not the best player on the ice in this one. That honour goes to game-winning shooter Evan Bouchard.

In total, the Grade A shots were 17 for Edmonton, eight for Vancouver, with the subset of more dangerous 5-alarm shots ending up six for the Oilers, three for the Canucks.

Cult of Hockey game grades player gradesConnor McDavid, 7.

Good game, one assist, one blemish, far more good than bad. He drew three Canucks defenders to him on the power play, then sifted a pass to Draisaitl for the game’s first goal. His line went to work in the second period manufacturing four Grade A shots and plenty of o-zone time. He got a bit too high in the d-zone on Vancouver’s second goal, giving too much time to Brock Boeser to pick his spot, never a good idea.

#97 contributions to Grade A Shots (GAS): Even Strength +5/-1; Special Teams +2/-0.Zach Hyman, 7.

Provided his trusty screen on Edmonton’s first goal. Worked hard all game with plenty of smart hustle plays. No major mistakes on defence.

#18 GAS: ES +3/-0; ST +3/-0.Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 8

. A brilliant goal in this one. Reunited on top line and his game again came alive He did his best work early on as part of Edmonton’s busy, busy penalty kill, which got a standing ovation for allowing just one shot on a double-minor kill in the first. He won a board battle that helped free Nurse for a break-in shot. Then came the moment Vancouver paid for Carson Soucy’s vicious cross-check and suspension, with his replacement Noah Juulsen out of position, allowing Edmonton to break-in 2-on-1, with RNH sniping in a shot off the post. He followed up snapping wide a few delicious power play slot shots early in the third

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. #93 GAS: ES +0/-0; ST +1/-0.Leon Draisaitl, 8.

Still not looking fully healthy but a big game from Leon, one goal and one assist. His line created some dangerous shots on the attack. Excellent job moving his feet to draw an early penalty on J.T. Miller. Followed up by driving the world-famous Executioner’s Shot past Arturs Silovs. Ill-advised, no-look, backhand turnover led to a 2-on-1 break late in the first, but big #29 made up for his own mistake with a ferocious backcheck. He was slow to the shooter on Garland’s goal. But he made a typically fantastic pass to set up Bouchard on the winner. Twenty points in nine playoff games to lead the league.

#29 GAS: ES +5/-1; ST +2/-0.Evander Kane, 8.

This game represented the Return of Mr. Playoffs, and not a moment too soon in this series. He knocked down Nikita Zadorov — aptly dubbed the Apex Predator of the series by commentator Jason Strudwick — earning the first big cheer of the game, then blasted him twice into the boards on the same shift a few minutes later. But he took an ill-advised cross-checking penalty into Tyler Myers’ face. A great forecheck let to a Nurse’s Grade A. Kane almost tucked in a slot shot late in the second, putting it off the post. Huge clearance in the third almost led to a break-in goal. The came his monster hit on Filip Hronek, kicking off the Virtuous Cycle on Bouchard’s massive goal. Who is the Apex Predator now?

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#91 GAS: ES +4/-0; ST +0/-0.Dylan Holloway, 7.

Looked right at home with Draisaitl and Kane. He’s gone from the AHL to the fourth line to the third line to the second line. Some solid stick-handling and passing this game. Huge slot stickcheck on Garland in the slot midway. He charged in for a late second period Grade A, then set up Kane for another.

#55 GAS: ES +0/-0; ST +0/-0.Ryan McLeod, 6.

Kept it simple, held his own defence. Had a wide-open look in the first period but pinged it off the crossbar. Good work on the PK in the first, part of Edmonton’s unit that killed off six minutes.

#71 GAS: ES +0/-0; ST +0/-0.Corey Perry, 5.

A few bumbled pucks early on had me wondering why the Oilers stuck with him over Sam Gagner. Didn’t get much done. He played just nine minutes, no shots, no hits, but no mistakes on major defence. And he warded off Brock Boeser with his stick, keeping Boeser out of a scrum, and igniting a fun but silly social media uproar.

#90 GAS: ES +0/-0; ST +0/-0.Warren Foegele, 5.

As invisible as Perry, but no mistakes on defence.

#37 GAS: ES +0/-0; ST +0/-0.Derek Ryan, 6.

He won a board battle and made a huge clear on Edmonton’s lengthy first period penalty kill. He threw a hard hit on Hughes late in the second. He lost the face-off on Vancouver’s second goal.

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#10 GAS: ES +0/-1; ST +0/-0.Mattias Janmark, 7.

He burst in short-handed for a 5-alarm shot. Solid on defence, so solid. I’d have him out there in the last minute protecting the lead every game, but that’s just me.

#13 GAS: ES +0/-0; ST +1/-0.Connor Brown, 6.

Good on defence, good on the PK, no offence.

#28 GAS: ES +0/-0; ST +1/-0.Evan Bouchard, 9.

What a cool killer he’s become. Edmonton’s best player in this one. One assist, one stupendous goal. Another game-winning goal. His excellent run of play continued into the game. He made a smart pass to free up McDavid to do his work on Edmonton’s first goal. Next made a fine deke to set up McLeod in the slot for a great chance. Excellent stick-on-puck shot-block on Joshua midway. Then came his outside shot through a self-inflicted Detroit Double Screen of two Vancouver defenders on the winning goal. If they had only let Silovs’ see that outside shot, he’d have stopped it, but screen it they did.

#02 GAS: ES +4/-2; ST +1/-0.Mattias Ekholm, 8.

Solid defensive play early on to prevent a pass to Lafferty breaking in alone. Huge play to block out Garland on a rebound attempt late in the first, which might well have saved a goal. He lost a board battle and was out of position in the second on two Canuck Grade As on the same shift. Brilliant play on Edmonton’s second goal, avoiding a big hit and sending RNH and McD in on a 2-on-1 and scoring play. Huge play at the blueline to hold in puck for the winning goal.

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#14 GAS: ES +2/-2; ST +0/-0.Cody Ceci, 6.

He looked much better with Kulak. Bobbled the puck allowing Brock Boeser to break in on a dangerous chance in the second, tho Ceci was able to clear the rebound. He broke in with Drai but failed to get a shot in net midway in the game. Had a few more bobbles with the puck but played sound enough positional defence.

#05 GAS: ES +0/-1; ST +1/-0.Brett Kulak, 7.

A solid defensive stop and clearance as Vancouver put on some second period pressure, where he was out for 2:31 on a shift. His superior skating kicked off an Edmonton Grade A sequence late in the second. His hard work led to a penalty call against Vancouver early in the third. He was the only Oilers d-man to keep a clean sheet at even strength, not one mistake on a Grade A shot against.

#27  GAS: ES +1/-0; ST +0/-0.Darnell Nurse, 6.

More good than bad. He took an early penalty, then charged in and lost the puck, almost leading to a 3-on-1 Canucks break, so not the best start. But made a good pass in the sequence leading to Janmark’s break-in chance. He broke up ice for two Grade A shots midway in the game. Garland’s goal deflected in off of his leg.

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#25 GAS: ES +3/-1; ST +1/-0.Vincent Desharnais, 5.

He struggled, but battled, struggled more, battled more, helped kill the puck in the final seconds. Allowed a few Grade A shots on the PK in the first, both by Garland. He gave away the puck twice in the Sequence of Pain leading to Connor Garland’s goal seven minutes into the third. He allowed in Boeser’s shot on Vancouver’s second goal.

#73 GAS: ES +0/-2; ST +0/-2.Calvin Pickard, 8.

He only faced eight Grade A shots, but he was cool in the net and yielded just two goals. That’s almost always enough for the Oilers to win. He got an early save on Vancouver’s first power play. He stuffed the dangerous Garland late in the first. Looked good on Blueger’s harpoon. Then came a huge moment with Pickard doing what Stuart Skinner failed to do last game: thwart sniper Boeser on a 5-alarm break-in shot. He had little chance on Garland’s goal, as he was screened and the puck went in off Nurse. The second goal was roller derby madness, little chance for Pick.

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