Edmonton Oilers’ Jujhar Khaira (16) is checked by Vancouver Canucks’ Tyler Myers (57) during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Edmonton Oilers’ Jujhar Khaira (16) is checked by Vancouver Canucks’ Tyler Myers (57) during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Canucks power past playoff-bound Oilers 4-1 as NHL regular season winds down

Vancouver and Calgary will play final games as other teams begin post-season action

Matthew Highmore scored twice in the third period Saturday as the Vancouver Canucks topped the host Edmonton Oilers 4-1.

Travis Boyd and Bo Horvat also had goals for the Canucks (22-28-3), and J.T. Miller registered a pair of assists.

Oilers defenceman Adam Larsson opened the scoring with his fourth goal of the season midway through the first period.

Thatcher Demko had a big performance for Vancouver, stopping 31 shots, including a breakaway chance by Connor McDavid. Mikko Koskinen had 37 saves for Edmonton (35-19-2).

The result ended a two-game losing skid for the Canucks, who linger at the bottom of the North Division standings with three games left to play.

By the time the Canucks and Calgary Flames cap their regular seasons, the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins will be well into the first round of their playoff series.

Another bizarre anomaly in an NHL season with a COVID-19 backdrop is two teams’ regular seasons overlapping with other clubs’ playoff series.

Neither the Flames nor the Canucks will make the post-season, but they’re still squaring off Sunday in the first of three remaining games where the results will only count toward where the clubs rank in the entry draft lottery.

Every other NHL club will have concluded their regular seasons by the time Washington and Boston meet in Game 1 on Saturday.

With their final playoff tune-up complete, the Oilers will turn their attention to Wednesday’s first-round playoff series opener against the visiting Winnipeg Jets.

The Canucks broke the game open midway through the third period.

Highmore’s second goal of the afternoon came with 6:33 left to play. He sent a backhand shot towards the Edmonton net from the top of the slot and Koskinen fumbled with the puck before it dribbled over the goal line.

The goal, the Vancouver forward’s third of the season, sealed the score at 4-1.

An odd-man rush saw Highmore blast a shot up and over Koskinen’s glove 9:13 into the period. Just 16 seconds later, Boyd snapped a shot past the Edmonton netminder from the middle of the slot to make it 3-1.

The Canucks outshot the Oilers 17-5 in the final frame on Saturday.

McDavid had a prime chance to add to his NHL-leading 105 points in the third period when he picked up a Canucks turnover in the neutral zone and sped away for a breakaway.

The Oilers captain attempted to put a wrist shot in from the top of the crease but Demko made a blocker save.

The Canucks netminder kept the score tied at 1-1 with a stellar stop midway through the second period.

The Oilers were awarded their second power play of the game when Zack MacEwen hauled down Joakim Nygard. Alex Chiasson’s snapshot from the bottom of the slot nearly restored Edmonton’s lead, but Demko swept it off the goal line with his right pad.

Edmonton’s first power play of the afternoon didn’t go as planned. Vancouver’s J.T. Miller was called for holding 1:12 into the second period and 15 seconds later, the puck was in the back of the Edmonton net.

READ MORE: ‘Very jealous’: Canadian teams can’t take advantage of NHL’s relaxed COVID-19 rules

A shot by Leon Draisaitl went wide and was picked up by Tanner Pearson. He streaked up the ice and sent a backhanded pass across the top of the crease to Horvat, who popped it in to tie the game at 1-1.

It was the Canucks’ fifth short-handed goal of the season and Horvat’s 18th goal of the year.

Still stationed in the penalty box, Miller tapped his stick against the glass in appreciation.

Edmonton was 0 for 3 on the power play and Vancouver went 0 for 2.

Larsson opened the scoring 12:45 into the opening frame, blasting a slapshot past Demko from above the right faceoff circle.

McDavid and Draisaitl had assists to extend their point streaks to eight games. McDavid has 21 points (five goals, 16 assists) over the stretch and Draisaitl has 17 points (7-10).

Edmonton still won the 10-game season series with six victories over Vancouver.

The Canucks will host the Calgary Flames on Sunday, kicking off a three-game series that will close out the season for both sides.

Notes: Slater Koekkoek returned to the Oilers lineup after missing 20 games with a broken collarbone. … Canucks defenceman Jalen Chatfield turned 25 on Saturday.

The Canadian Press

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