VANCOUVER, BC – April 11: Alex Edler #23 of the Vancouver Canucks scores the game winning goal in OT on Ben Scrivens #30 of the Edmonton Oilers during their NHL game at Rogers Arena on April 11, 2015 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Derek Cain / ISN)
VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Canucks didn’t have much to gain against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday, but it was still a big game for goaltender Ryan Miller and rookie forward Sven Baertschi.
VANCOUVER, BC – April 11: Daniel Sedin #22 of the Vancouver Canucks scores a goal on Ben Scrivens #30 of the Edmonton Oilers in the 1st period during their NHL game at Rogers Arena on April 11, 2015 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Derek Cain / ISN)
For Miller, it was a chance to prove to himself and his coaches that he could be an option for the Stanley Cup Playoffs despite missing almost seven weeks with a sprained right knee.
For Baertschi, it may have been the last chance to earn a spot in the Western Conference First Round against the Calgary Flames, who traded him to the Canucks just over a month ago.
Each player took a step in the right direction.
VANCOUVER, BC – April 11: Vancouver Canucks celebrate a 1st period goal by Daniel Sedin on Ben Scrivens #30 of the Edmonton Oilers during their NHL game at Rogers Arena on April 11, 2015 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Derek Cain / ISN)
Baertschi scored his second goal to tie the game midway through the third period, defenseman Alexander Edler converted a 2-on-1 pass from Daniel Sedin 2:29 into overtime and the Canucks rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period to defeat the Oilers 6-5 at Rogers Arena.
“That’s me as a hockey player; tonight is how I can play,” said Baertschi, who arrived in a March 2 trade for a second-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. “I can play in this League, it’s just making sure I show up every day here. I was blessed being traded to Vancouver and now it’s time for me to show up.”
Baertschi said the Canucks wanted to show up for Miller in the third period after leaving him to hang out to dry in the first two.
“It was an important game for (Miller) too,” Baertschi said. “After the second period, we said we wanted to win this game for him so he feels good.”
VANCOUVER, BC – April 11: Henrik Sedin #33 of the Vancouver Canucks is checked into the boards by Taylor Hall #4 of the Edmonton Oilers during their NHL game at Rogers Arena on April 11, 2015 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Derek Cain / ISN)
Miller was beaten five times on the first 20 shots before denying the final eight in the third period and overtime. But after being out since a Feb. 22 collision, it wasn’t about statistics for the goaltender.
“It’s still injury recovery for me,” said Miller, who finished with 23 saves. “I’m happy with the step forward even with five goals behind me. Just getting into that game was a big checkpoint for me.”
Miller admittedly struggled early, but he didn’t get a lot of help either.
VANCOUVER, BC – April 11: Martin Marincin #85 of the Edmonton Oilers pushes the head of Derek Dorsett #51 of the Vancouver Canucks into the ice after a fury of action on the Edmonton Oilers net during their NHL game at Rogers Arena on April 11, 2015 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Derek Cain / ISN)
Teddy Purcell put Edmonton ahead 5-3 by banging his own rebound on a 3-on-0 rush after a bad line change with 29.6 seconds left in the second period. But Jannik Hansen scored six minutes into the third period and Baertschi tied it in his third game for the Canucks.
Coach Willie Desjardins admitted Baertschi, who was playing so others could rest, gave him something to think about for the playoffs.
“He’s a real skilled player,” Desjardins said. “It’s exciting to see how he plays. He made some real good plays and he’s got good speed. He’s a guy that gives us some depth.”
Daniel Sedin scored his 20th goal of the season and defenseman Kevin Bieksa scored his fourth for the Canucks (48-29-5), who won all five games against the Oilers this season. Vancouver was locked into second place in the Pacific Division, and it showed at times.
“It wasn’t a game that meant a whole lot,” Miller said. “But it meant a lot for me because I wanted to get back on track.”
VANCOUVER, BC – April 11: Oscar Klefbom #84 of the Edmonton Oilers is sent flying after colliding with Bo Horvat #53 of the Vancouver Canucks during their NHL game at Rogers Arena on April 11, 2015 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Derek Cain / ISN)
Nail Yakupov and Jordan Eberle scored 11 seconds apart in the first period, and Benoit Pouliot had a goal and two assists for Edmonton. Taylor Hall scored and goalie Ben Scrivens made 17 saves for the Oilers (24-44-14), who finished 28th in the NHL.
“Both goaltenders would like to have a few back,” Edmonton coach Todd Nelson said. “Anytime you play games that are meaningless, it’s wide open, back-and-forth. It’s entertaining for the fans, but from a coaching standpoint you’d like to see your team play the right way.”
After clinching home-ice advantage in the opening round against Calgary when the Flames lost earlier in the day, the Canucks rested defenseman Dan Hamhuis and forward Chris Higgins.
Goalie Eddie Lack did not play for the second time in 24 games while Miller tried to get his timing back before the playoffs. Despite missing the past seven weeks, Miller didn’t mind the wide-open style of play.
“I might as well see it all,” he said. “The unpredictable stuff is kind of the stuff you need to be able to say my game and positioning hold up. I missed a few plays and a little too much motion laterally on a few cost me. But if I can start to hold my ground and get that feel of being in the shooting line, I think I can be a reliable option down the line.”
VANCOUVER, BC – April 11: Daniel Sedin #22 congratulates Alex Edler #23 of the Vancouver Canucks after he scored a goal on Ben Scrivens #30 of the Edmonton Oilers during their NHL game at Rogers Arena on April 11, 2015 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Derek Cain / ISN)
Miller made a couple of great saves five minutes in, getting the toe of his right pad on a deflection and then pushing left to get a pad on Anton Lander’s shot from point-blank range on the rebound. Miller looked slow getting up after that sequence, but didn’t get much defensive help when the Oilers opened the scoring five minutes later.
Canucks forward Linden Vey couldn’t handle a pass coming out of his zone and Derek Roy turned the giveaway into a 2-on-1, passing cross-crease to Yakupov for a one-timer past a sprawling Miller.
Eberle doubled the lead on the next shift, beating Miller over the glove-side shoulder with a quick wrist shot from above the right faceoff dot after a pass from Pouliot behind the net.
“It was a wake-up call,” Miller said of the early chances. “I had to change direction pretty quick and was able to get there but was a little slow getting up, so [I] still have some work to do on that stuff.”
Daniel Sedin responded for the Canucks after a power play expired a little more than three minutes later and Bieksa tied it on a wraparound 2:15 into the second period. But Hall put the Oilers back in front 89 seconds later when he tapped in a backdoor pass from Pouliot.
Pouliot scored his 19th goal four minutes later from the high slot, but Baertschi made it a one-goal game again 14 seconds later.
“We controlled the game for the first 40 minutes, [but] couldn’t put it away in the end,” Pouliot said. “It’s the story of the year; you either don’t do the job in front of whoever’s in net, sometimes weak ones get in, it’s really inconsistent. It’s frustrating and it’s been like that all year.”
VANCOUVER, BC – April 11: Fans hold up a Gino sign during the NHL game between the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Arena on April 11, 2015 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Derek Cain / ISN)
The Oilers were struggling to defend late, but Miller seemed to get better as the game went on. He made a good save on Pouliot in the slot late in regulation and Purcell 90 seconds into overtime.
“As the game went on I felt a little bit better about myself and where I was on the ice and how I was moving with the plays,” Miller said. “Just happy to get some rhythm and get back into a game.”
Baertschi was downplaying the chance to get into a playoff game against the Flames, who picked him 13th in the 2011 NHL Draft before trading him to Vancouver in March.
“Calgary for me is in the past. I don’t think about it anymore,” Baertschi said. “It’s not personal.”