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Oilers' Pickard, 32, to make first career playoff start in Game 4


Edmonton Oilers goaltender Calvin Pickard is set to make his first career playoff start against the Vancouver Canucks in Game 4 on Tuesday night.

The 32-year-old confirmed he will start after he was in the starter's net at the Oilers' morning skate and was the first goaltender off the ice.

"It's exciting, obviously. All you can ask for is an opportunity in the Stanley Cup playoffs," he said. "I felt like I had a good season and the preparation’s done. I’m excited to get out there."

The change comes after Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch pulled Stuart Skinner after two periods in Sunday's 4-3 loss in Game 3. Skinner allowed four goals on 15 shots in the first two periods, with Pickard posting three saves in relief over the final 20 minutes in his first career playoff appearance.

"I'm expecting what I've seen from Calvin all season — a goaltender who’s competed very hard, played very well for us and piled up a lot of victories," Knoblauch said Tuesday.

"It’s not an ideal situation, he hasn’t been playing for a long time. But he’s gone long stretches without playing and I think the team has a lot of confidence in Calvin when he has played. And he's going to be our guy."

Pickard appeared in 23 games during the regular season with the Oilers, posting a 12-7-1 record with a 2.45 GAA and a .909 save percentage. 

"I know I can play at this level and this year I proved it to myself and everybody around me," Pickard added. "It's a really good opportunity for me tonight and I feel like I'm ready."

The 32-year-old opened the season in the AHL, but moved up to the Oilers roster after Jack Campbell was waived early in the season. Campbell, who appeared in four playoff games for Edmonton last spring, is with the Oilers having been recalled after the Bakersfield Condors were eliminated from the playoffs.

The Oilers trail the best-of-seven series 2-1 entering Tuesday's game, having been outscored 12-11 through three games.

Skinner has started every game of the playoffs for the Oilers to this point, having allowed 21 goals on 188 shots through his first seven starts for a 2.96 goals-against average and an .888 save percentage. He posted a shutout in Game 4 of the team's first-round series against the Los Angeles Kings, but has struggled in the second round, allowing 12 goals on 58 shots against the Canucks.

“We need more saves. Tonight, obviously I felt like that with 'Picks' going in in the third period,” Knoblauch said after Sunday's loss. “Tonight’s one that he would like to have back, and we’ll see what he’s got in the future, whether that’s Game 4 or Game 5 or whatever it is.

"But we’ll be seeing Stu again, and I have no doubt that he’ll respond and play well.”

This marks the second straight year Skinner has struggled in the postseason. He made 12 starts last season for the Oilers in the playoffs, posting a .883 save percentage and a 3.68 GAA.