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Edmonton Oilers defeat Vancouver Canucks 3-2 in Game 7 to advance to Western Conference Final

By Sam Joseph, CNN

(CNN) — A second period scoring flurry allowed the Edmonton Oilers to eliminate the Vancouver Canucks on the road at Rogers Arena, winning 3-2 to seal their place in the Western Conference Final.

After securing a crucial Game 6 win on Sunday to tie the series and bring about a win-or-go-home situation, the Oilers raced into a three-goal lead in the second period and withstood a Vancouver fightback to advance.

British Columbia native Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a goal and assist.

“It’s something you kind of dream of as a kid,” Nugent-Hopkins said, per the NHL, about scoring in Game 7. “It truly hasn’t sunk in yet that it’s here because you’re so focused on playing, but my brother and I and kids in the neighborhood, hours on end playing road hockey, and I’m definitely proud to do it with this group.

“I’m just happy to get the win, but it’s cool to do it here.”

Edmonton struggled to find a way past rookie goaltender Arturs Silovs in the Vancouver net for the much of the game, with the Latvian making 26 total saves. The Oilers were in control during the first frame, outshooting Vancouver 13-2 but could not find a way through in the scoreless period.

The scoring was eventually opened by Cody Ceci, who drove in a powerful slap shot from the right side to give Edmonton the lead just over a minute into the second period.

Zach Hyman doubled his squad’s advantage when his deflected strike found its way past Silovs with 14 minutes left to play in the period. The left winger currently leads NHL in Stanley Cup Playoff goals with 11.

The Oilers then took advantage of a power play 10 minutes later when Evan Bouchard’s shot ricocheted off the end boards and fell kindly to Nugent-Hopkins who fired past Silovs at the near post.

The Canucks, seeded first in the Pacific division, were not prepared to go down without a fight however, with Conor Garland capitalizing on a turnover to cut into Edmonton’s lead.

Filip Hronek’s one-timer then made it a one-score game with just under five minutes left in the game, leading to some nervy moments for the Oilers down the stretch. Their defense held firm though, with a crucial block in the slot with 13 seconds to sealing the victory.

“We would have preferred it to be less stressful and kind of cruise to the end of the game,” said Edmonton head coach Kris Knoblauch. “For the most part, I think for 60 minutes in Edmonton and about 50 minutes here, we played a pretty good game and were solid offensively and defensively, I liked a lot of things that we did.”

The Blue and Orange will battle the Dallas Stars in the Conference Final for the chance to to reach the Stanley Cup Finals. The series gets underway in Dallas on Thursday.

It was a tough way to end what had been a feel-good season for the Canucks, who remain one of the 11 NHL teams to never win the Stanley Cup.

“We weren’t going to go quietly,” Garland said after the game, per the NHL. “We felt like we had a chance. It’s hard to play with the lead in the playoffs. Human nature kicks in. Nobody wants to be the guy to make a mistake and sometimes teams sit back, and we knew we were going to get our looks, just had to execute. Just one shot short.”

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