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Oilers' Draisaitl to play in Game 2 against Canucks

Leon Draisaitl Edmonton Oilers Leon Draisaitl - The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER — Kris Knoblauch said some silent prayers as he watched his Edmonton Oilers warm up on the ice Friday night.

The head coach's team was less than an hour from facing the Vancouver Canucks in Game 2 of their second round playoff series and Knoblauch wasn't sure whether star forward Leon Draisaitl would be able to play.

Turns out he had nothing to worry about.

Draisaitl not only played, but scored and contributed three assists as the Oilers topped the Canucks 4-3 in overtime.

The result leveled the best-of-seven series at 1-1. Game 3 is set for Sunday in Edmonton.

“I saw him for the warm up on the ice and I felt confident he was going to play," Knoblauch said. "I didn’t know how well he was going to play. I didn’t expect him to come out and do that.”

A question mark loomed over Draisaitl's health after he appeared to be in pain late in Edmonton's 5-4 loss Wednesday.

The 28-year-old German forward missed practice Thursday and didn't participate in Friday's optional morning skate.

"Obviously, be smart about it but for the most part I felt good," Draisaitl said after the game.

His performance was no surprise to Oilers captain Connor McDavid.

“He's a great player," McDavid said. "He's an amazing player, one of the best players in the world, the best player in the world on a lot of nights. And tonight was one of those nights.”

It was a night where Edmonton's stars shone.

McDavid contributed a goal and three helpers. Mattias Ekholm found the back of the net to tie the game at 2-2 early in the second period. Evan Bouchard scored the game winner 5:38 into the extra frame.

“We hung in there all night. I thought everybody battled so hard to get this one," McDavid said. "This was a big one. It feels good to be tied going home.”

The Canucks got a goal and an assist from Nikita Zadorov, while Elias Pettersson put away his first of the playoffs and Brock Boeser also scored.

Stuart Skinner stopped 16 of 19 shots for the Oilers and Canucks goalie Arturs Silovs made 27 saves on 31 shots.

Edmonton and Vancouver both went 1-for-3 on the power play.

The Canucks hung on in the first and second periods, but the Oilers took over in the third, said Vancouver head coach Rick Tocchet.

“McDavid and Draisaitl responded. They were unreal tonight and they were all over the ice," he said.

"I just thought if we make some good passes, if we hold on to a puck, if we make a play, that's less possession time for them. But if we're just going to flip pucks out and give it back to him of course they're gonna keep coming down our throat."

Edmonton went into the third period down a goal and McDavid used his otherworldly speed to level the score.

The elite centre picked up a contested puck in the neutral zone, sprinted down the ice ahead of a pair of Canucks defencemen, and sent a shot flying under Silovs' blocker for his second post-season goal.

The Oilers continued to press for the game winner late, hemming Vancouver into its own end for extended stretches and outshooting the home side 15-2 across the third period, but had to settle for overtime.

Bouchard put away the game winner 5:38 into overtime, with a shot from near the boards that hit the skate of Canucks defenceman Ian Cole at the top of the crease and bounced in past Silovs.

The Canucks know what they need to do make adjustments ahead of Game 3 on Sunday, Tocchet said.

“Some guys here, they got to pick it up, too," the coach said. "They want to play but you got to dig in. You can't be a liability. If you're not getting much ice time, there's a reason why and we need some guys to pick it up a little bit.”


McDavid and Draisaitl extended their playoff scoring streaks to seven games. McDavid leads the league in post-season scoring with 17 points (two goals, 15 assists), while Draisaitl has 16 (six goals, 10 assists).

Bouchard has points in five straight, with two goals and five assists across the stretch.


The series shifts to Edmonton for Game 3 on Sunday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 10, 2024.