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'We were close': Vancouver Canucks eliminated from Stanley Cup playoffs

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Quinn Hughes couldn't quite find the words to describe his emotions Monday night.

The sting of losing Game 7 to the Edmonton Oilers on home ice was still washing over the Vancouver Canucks captain.

"Hard to reflect," he told reporters. "I'm kind of just trying to take it all in right now."

After falling behind 3-0 in the second period, the Canucks clawed out a pair of late goals in the third period, then pushed hard for a last-minute equalizer.

The bid fell short and Vancouver dropped a 3-2 decision to Edmonton in the decisive game of the all-Canadian second-round playoff series.

The Oilers move on to face the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference final, starting Thursday.

The Canucks are done for the season.

“Right now it just sucks to be that close," said Canucks forward J.T. Miller.

"We've got a lot of balls here, a lot of resiliency and we've come back a lot of times. And for the game to end like that, I think it's a good representation — even though we didn't win — but representation of the culture we're trying to build here.”

Vancouver got its chances Monday, including a four-minute power play in the first period when Ryan McLeod smacked centre Elias Pettersson in the face with his stick, drawing blood.

The Canucks failed to register a single shot on net with the man advantage

“I thought we lost some energy there because of it," said head coach Rick Tocchet. "That was a little bit of a zapper. But, for me, it's all positive. I think the guys responded after the second half. They didn’t quit."

Edmonton smothered Vancouver's power play over the final four games of the series, killing off 13 straight penalties across the stretch.

Getting shots on net was a struggle for the Canucks through much of the series, including Monday where the home team was outshot 29-17.

Conor Garland got Vancouver on the board 11:27 into the third and Filip Hronek followed with his first-ever playoff goal less than four minutes later.

“We just needed to get some momentum," said Pettersson. "Once we got the goal, we got some juice. We got a second goal. That’s how it goes.

"We were close. One win away from conference finals. I truly believe we’ll be back here.”

The Canucks were playing without star right-winger Brock Boeser, who is reportedly dealing with a blood clotting issue.

Boeser led Vancouver in goals through both the regular season (40) and the playoffs (seven).

While his absence was noticed in Game 7, it was harder for Boeser than the team, Miller said.

“I don't feel sorry for us. I feel sorry for him," he said. "He's worked his ass off all year long and had a career year and how far he's come as a player since I've got here, being out there blocking shots with the goalie pulled. He's that type of player now and for him not to be out there today must suck for him and I feel for him."

The Canucks hovered around the top of the league standings all season, but heading into the season few expected the team to make the playoffs.

Monday's loss isn't easy to take, Tocchet acknowledged, but the players have come a long way.

“This team brought respect back to this city and this journey," the coach said. "Let's face it — a year-and-a-half ago or so it's 'This guy can't play. This guy's that.' And I told them before the game that they put respect back in that jersey. Fans got something to be proud about. So that's all because of the players.”

Being eliminated from the second round of the playoffs will fuel the group moving forward, he added.

"Losing always sucks," Tocchet said. "It stings but it makes you even hungrier.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 20, 2024.  

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