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Oilers tap backup to protect their goal against Canucks in crucial Game 4

Oilers starting Calvin Pickard after usual starter Stuart Skinner pulled in Game 3 loss
Edmonton Oilers goalie Calvin Pickard (30) swats away a shot during first period NHL hockey action against the Calgary Flames in Calgary on April 6, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

The Edmonton Oilers will start Calvin Pickard in net Tuesday for Game 4 of their playoff series with the Vancouver Canucks.

The 32-year-old journeyman netminder replaces Stuart Skinner, who was pulled in the third period of Edmonton’s 4-3 loss to Vancouver on Sunday after giving up four goals on 15 shots.

“I’m expecting what I’ve seen from Calvin all season — a goaltender who’s competed very hard, played very well for us and piled up a lot of victories,” Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch said of the swap.

“It’s not an ideal situation, he hasn’t been playing for a long time. But he’s gone long stretches without playing and I think the team has a lot of confidence in Calvin when he has played. And he’s going to be our guy.”

Pickard is making his first start in the NHL playoffs after making 20 appearances for the Oilers in the regular season.

The six-foot-one, 206-pound goalie went 12-7-1 with a 2.45 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage.

“It’s exciting, obviously. All you can ask for is an opportunity in the Stanley Cup playoffs,” Pickard said after morning skate Tuesday. “I felt like I had a good season and the preparation’s done. I’m excited to get out there.”

Pickard signed with the Oilers as a free agent in July 2022 and has spent much of his tenure with the organization playing for the Bakersfield Condors in the American Hockey League.

Originally picked 49th overall by the Colorado Avalanche in the 2010 draft, the native of Moncton, N.B., has played 139 regular-season NHL games for six different teams, including one for the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 2017-18 campaign.

Making it to a playoff start hasn’t been easy, Pickard admitted.

“I know I can play at this level and this year I proved it to myself and everybody around me,” he said. “It’s a really good opportunity for me tonight and I feel like I’m ready.”

Edmonton trails Vancouver 2-1 in the best-of-seven second-round Western Conference playoff series.

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