Connor McDavid scored four points, while Dominik Kahun polished off a beautiful feed from Dmitry Kulikov and Mikko Koskinen made 20 saves as the Edmonton Oilers knocked off the Vancouver Canucks 5-3 on Monday night. The significance of the win was not lost on the Oilers, who clinched the 23rd Stanley Cup Playoff berth in franchise history.
The club could celebrate on Monday night, as they achieved the first goal they set for themselves in December when training camp opened. The Oilers are going to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and will likely be favored in their first round matchup.
“Your first goal every season is to play in the playoffs,” McDavid said after locking up the third playoff berth of his career. “That’s step one and we’ve been able to do that. We need to continue to work on our game and get ready for the playoffs. It’s exciting, but that’s all it is. We’ve got lots and lots and lots of work to do before we even get to the playoffs. We can’t take our foot off the gas now.”
The next goal Edmonton can achieve is home ice in the first round. The Oilers need just three more points to accomplish that goal, most likely locking themselves in as the second seed in the North Division. That could happen as soon as Thursday night. The Oilers are back in Vancouver tonight before hosting them on Thursday.
Even when home ice in the opening round gets locked up, it’s only the start for the Oilers. It’s only step one for this team.
“We’ve given ourselves a chance at it now,” Tyson Barrie said postgame on Monday night. “It’s nice to get that X next to your name, get that out of the way, and now we’ve got a shot to win the Stanley Cup. That’s what the goal is at the beginning of the year and we’ve done a good job accomplishing that.”
The Oilers advance to the ‘Round of 16’ for just the second time since their surprise run to the 2006 Stanley Cup Final 15 years ago. They’ll be looking for similar magic this spring, hopefully with a different outcome.