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 Pearson — Bo Horvat — Loui Eriksson
Antoine Roussel — Brandon Sutter — Jake Virtanen
Tyler Motte — Jay Beagle — Zack MacEwen
Alexander Edler — Troy Stecher
Quinn Hughes — Christopher Tanev
Oscar Fantenberg — Tyler Myers
Unfit to play: Tyler Toffoli, Adam Gaudette, Micheal Ferland, Josh Leivo
Wild projected lineup
Zach Parise — Eric Staal — Kevin Fiala
Marcus Foligno — Joel Eriksson Ek — Jordan Greenway
Mats Zuccarello — Alex Galchenyuk — Luke Kunin
Nico Sturm — Mikko Koivu — Ryan Hartman
Ryan Suter — Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin — Matt Dumba
Brad Hunt — Carson Soucy
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
Toffoli and Gaudette have been unfit to play in each of the past two games and remain uncertain for Game 4.