Connor McDavid had four points and the Edmonton Oilers clinched a playoff spot with a 5-3 win over the host Vancouver Canucks on Monday.
The Oilers captain had two goal and two assists and Jesse Puljujarvi had one of each. Tyson Barrie and Dominik Kahun also scored for Edmonton (31-17-2), and Leon Draisaitl notched a pair of assists. McDavid leads the NHL in scoring with 91 points (31 goals, 60 assists).
Nate Schmidt and J.T. Miller scored for the Canucks (19-24-3), who saw their losing skid stretch to five games. Mikko Koskinen stopped 20-of-23 to collect his 12th win of the season. Canucks netminder Braden Holtby had 27 saves. The Oilers hold a 4-2 edge in the season series between the two sides with four games to go.
Edmonton sits second in the North Division, eight points back of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Vancouver remains at the bottom of the all-Canadian group’s standings with nine games to go.
The Chicago Blackhawks bounced the Oilers from the play-in round in a five-game series last season.
The Oilers held a 4-2 lead heading into the third Monday night and refused to relent. The Canucks had a single shot on goal through the first 15 minutes of the period.
Vancouver pulled Holtby with 3:29 left on the clock and the move immediately paid off with Boeser sent a bullet soaring past Koskinen off a face-off draw.
The right-winger leads the Canucks in scoring with 38 points (18 goals, 20 assists).
McDavid sealed the score at 5-3, burying an empty-net strike with 1:00 to go in the game.
Kahun closed out the second period with a blast past Holtby, making it 4-2 for Edmonton with 44.1 seconds left on the clock.
Miller had briefly narrowed the Oilers lead to 3-2 with his 12th goal of the year.
Vancouver’s second of the night came 17:16 into the second when Miller tucked a backhanded shot under Koskinen’s outstretched glove from the top of the crease.
Just 41 seconds earlier, McDavid picked off a Canucks pass in the neutral zone, skated into Vancouver territory and blasted a shot at Holtby. The netminder initially seemed to make a glove save, but the puck trickled through and his attempt to dive backward and sweep it off the goal line was unsuccessful.
Barrie gave Edmonton a 2-1 lead just 18 seconds into the middle frame.
Holtby stopped a shot from Puljujarvi but couldn’t corral the rebound. Barrie scooped up the puck at the top of the crease and quickly popped it in for his eighth goal of the season.
The Canucks tied the game at 1-1 before the end of the first, thanks to Schmidt’s fifth goal of the season.
The defenceman took advantage of a net-front screen by rookie Nils Hoglander and rifled a shot from the top of the left face-off circle, beating Koskinen on his blocker side.
The Oilers got an early lead after McDavid sent a slick pass to Puljujarvi across the slot. The Finnish forward fired a one timer past Holtby from the right face-off circle to give Edmonton a 1-0 lead 3:45 into the game. It was Puljujarvi’s 13th goal of the year.
The Canucks recalled defenceman Jack Rathbone and centre Tyler Graovac from the taxi squad earlier on Monday, moves aimed at filling spots on a team that’s been rocked by injuries.
Centre Brandon Sutter (upper body) is the latest Vancouver player to go down with an injury, joining forwards Tyler Motte, Antoine Roussel, Jay Beagle and Elias Pettersson who were already out with various ailments.
The team also placed right-winger Jake Virtanen on leave on Saturday amid an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct.
Monday’s game kicked off four-straight matchups between the Oilers and Canucks. Round two will go in Vancouver on Tuesday.
NOTES: Each side was 0 for 1 on the power play. … Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse played his 400th NHL game.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press