3 Keys: Canucks vs. Wild, Game 4 of Cup Qualifiers


No. 7 Canucks vs. No. 10 Wild

10:45 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN, FS-N

Vancouver leads best-of-5 series, 2-1

The Vancouver Canucks can advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a win against the Minnesota Wild in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Friday.

The Canucks have won consecutive games to put the Wild, who won the series opener, on the brink of elimination. Vancouver goalie Jacob Markstrom had a 27-save shutout in a 3-0 Game 3 win on Thursday in Edmonton, the Western Conference hub city, after allowing three goals on 35 shots in a 4-3 victory in Game 2 on Tuesday.

Teams that win Game 3 after a series is tied 1-1 are 22-7 (75.9 percent) winning a best-of-5 NHL series (14-2 when last used from 1980-86).

If the Wild lose, they will have a 12.5 percent chance at the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft in the Second Phase of the NHL Draft Lottery, to be held Monday. 

Here are 3 keys to Game 4:


1. Closeout ability of Canucks’ young core

Vancouver’s best young players, 21-year-old center Elias Pettersson, 20-year-old defenseman Quinn Hughes and 23-year-old forward Brock Boeser, are playing well and on the verge of their first postseason series victory. Pettersson scored his first postseason goal with 1:22 remaining in Game 3, Hughes assisted on all three Canucks goals in the game and Boeser has scored goals in consecutive games.

But with no prior NHL experience in a series-clinching situation, the group is embracing the chance to help Vancouver play in the Western Conference First Round for the first time since 2015.

“We’re not just here to get experience; we want to win the games and we want to win the series,” Canucks coach Travis Green said Thursday. “[We’ve] put ourselves in a (good) spot, and we’re going to have to play a little better tomorrow if we want to win.”


2. Suter’s status

Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter didn’t play in the final 6:51 of Game 3 after blocking a shot in the third period. Wild coach Dean Evason did not have an update after the game, so Suter’s status for Game 4 is unclear.

Even with Suter in the lineup, Minnesota’s offense has not scored a 5-on-5 goal in the series and has gone 0-for-13 on the power play over the past two games. Suter is averaging 23:27 average ice time per game (second on the Wild behind defenseman Matt Dumba‘s 24:09) in the series but has been held to one assist in three games.


3. Minnesota goalie choice

With the Wild’s season on the line, they could make a change at the position and turn to the experienced Devan Dubnyk. Alex Stalock had 28 saves in a 3-0 shutout win in Game 1 but has allowed a combined seven goals in consecutive losses.

“[Stalock is] giving us an opportunity to win every night,” Minnesota coach Dean Evason said after Game 3. “We’ve got to do a better job in front of him to limit quality opportunities and give him some run support. … We’ll evaluate; we’ll consider everything (for lineup decisions).”


Canucks projected lineup

J.T. Miller — Elias Pettersson — Brock Boeser

Tanner PearsonBo HorvatLoui Eriksson

Antoine RousselBrandon SutterJake Virtanen

Tyler MotteJay BeagleZack MacEwen

Alexander EdlerTroy Stecher

Quinn Hughes — Christopher Tanev

Oscar FantenbergTyler Myers

Jacob Markstrom

Thatcher Demko

Scratched: Justin Bailey, Jordie Benn, Jalen Chatfield, Louis Domingue, Tyler Graovac, Olli Juolevi, Brogan Rafferty 

Unfit to play: Tyler Toffoli, Adam Gaudette, Micheal Ferland, Josh Leivo


Wild projected lineup

Zach PariseEric StaalKevin Fiala

Marcus FolignoJoel Eriksson EkJordan Greenway

Mats ZuccarelloAlex GalchenyukLuke Kunin

Nico SturmMikko KoivuRyan Hartman

Ryan Suter — Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin — Matt Dumba

Brad HuntCarson Soucy

Alex Stalock

Devan Dubnyk

Scratched: Matt Bartkowski, Louie Belpedio, Ryan Donato, Luke Johnson, Kaapo Kahkonen, Gerald Mayhew, Brennan Menell, Victor Rask, Kyle Rau, Mat Robson

Unfit to play: Greg Pateryn 


Status report

Toffoli and Gaudette have been unfit to play in each of the past two games and remain uncertain for Game 4.

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