Instead, he focused on making 36 saves as his teammates got the bounces to beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-0 to keep first place in the tightly packed Northwest Division. “It’s always important,” Roloson said of his comeback after trips to the bench during 4-0 and 7-3 losses. “I don’t really worry about the last two games. You can’t control that. You’ve just got to look forward and give your guys a chance to win the next day.”
The Oilers scored on their first shot of every period, twice on deflections.
And when the Canucks seemed to have a chance to score, they misfired.
“We played well defensively tonight,” said Roloson whose club was outshot 36-18. “Any time they did get a chance to get a Grade A chance, they were rushed to make the shot.”
Shawn Horcoff scored the opening goal when his shot was partly blocked by Kevin Bieksa, then hit defence partner Willie Mitchell before floating past goalie Roberto Luongo.
Daniel Tjarnqvist and Joffrey Lupul scored 34 seconds apart to start the second period.
Tjarnqvist’s shot bounced off the skate of Canuck Brendan Morrison but Lupul earned his goal by stealing the puck from Lukas Krajicek and beating a screened Luongo.
Raffi Torres completed the attack in the third period after Jarret Stoll intercepted Daniel Sedin’s outlet pass up the middle.
The Canucks lost forwards Taylor Pyatt and Rick Rypien in the first period along with defenceman Sami Salo.
Rypien has a suspected groin injury and coach Alain Vigneault, who had to juggle his depleted lineup said the others, described as having upper body injuries, will be re-evaluated Tuesday.
The 14-10-2 Oilers, who lead the Minnesota Wild by two points and the 13-14-1 Canucks by three, played without Ryan Smyth, their top goal scorer and Ales Hemsky, who leads the club in assists.
“When Smitty and Hemmer go down it’s going to throw some more minutes around for everybody and guys have to step up and we have to try to find some goals elsewhere,” said Horcoff who needed the bounces to increase his goal total to three.
“It was a lucky goal but a lot of times it’s a matter of getting pucks to the net. Lately I’ve been struggling in that area and have had some good quality chances that haven’t gone in.”
The result also showcased the Oilers’ resilience after three straight losses at home, a poor road record and key forwards on the shelf.
“It’s been something that for the many years I’ve been here we always seem to find a way to battle through situations like that and when we needed a big win to find it,” said Horcoff.
Lupul, who scored his ninth goal of the season, said the Oilers felt they were in a must-win situation.
“We played two awful games at home and to bounce back on the road and play our strongest game we’ve played in a while is pretty big for us,” he said.
Although Canuck shooters made life easier for Roloson by botching their opportunities, Lupul said his teammates expected him to come back strong.
“We didn’t expect anything less,” Lupul said. “You’re not going to be near-perfect every night but he’s been solid all the way through.”
For Luongo, it was another night of his club getting behind early.
“They’re frustrating, no doubt, but there’s nothing you can do about it,” he said of the deflected goals. “You just have to move on but it’s happened so many times this year, especially at the beginning of games.”
The Canucks’ anemic offence has not scored more than two goals in 15 of their last 17 games and Monday was no different.
Daniel Sedin put the puck in the net after it was 3-0 but twin brother Henrik was called for goaltender interference.
The chance came after Bieksa hit the post. Trevor Linden shot wide on a two-on-one shorthanded breakaway. Alex Burrows, who hasn’t scored for 37 games, almost stuffed the puck past Roloson but a video review showed it didn’t cross the goal line.
Markus Naslund was shaking his head.
“I think we’d all like to know what to do different,” he said. “We outshot them pretty badly again but maybe we’re not getting in deep enough in the scoring areas, screening and getting dirty.”
NOTES: Canuck Jan Bulis played his 500th NHL game … Luongo leads NHL goalies with 26 games played and in ice time … Matt Cooke was back in the Vancouver lineup after missing one game with a rib injury … it was the Oilers’ first road game in three weeks … Brad Winchester, a healthy scratch on Saturday, drew into the lineup to replace Smyth … Edmonton has also recalled Alexei Mikhnov from AHL Wilkes-Barre who could provide power-play help.