VANCOUVER – Andrew Ebbett is making up for lost time and improving his job security in the process.
Ebbett had the first two-goal game of his career on Monday and the Canucks beat the Edmonton Oilers 5-3 in a Boxing Day clash that moved Vancouver ahead of Minnesota and into the Northwest Division lead.
It was only Ebbett’s third game after sitting out 18 straight contests with a fractured foot suffered after blocking a shot Nov. 10 in Los Angeles.
Ebbett now has three goals on the season, exceeding the two he scored last season for Phoenix while splitting the campaign with the Coyotes and their AHL farm club in San Antonio.
“It gives you a little more confidence when you come to the rink in the morning and know you are in the lineup that night,” said Ebbett, who signed with the Canucks in the off-season. “I’m looking as this as an opportunity to prove I deserve a top-12 spot the rest of the season.
“I’ve really had fun here the last week and a half coming back and trying to enjoy it and seize the opportunity.”
Daniel Sedin, Alex Burrows, and Ryan Kesler also scored for Vancouver (22-12-4), which posted its 13th win in 17 games.
Jordan Eberle, Ryan Smyth and Corey Potter replied for the Oilers, who dropped to 15-17-3 as they suffered their seventh loss in 10 games. The Oilers only flirted with a comeback after trailing 3-0 at the end of a first period in which they were outshot 13-5.
Smyth’s and Potter’s goals came during the same five-minute power play in the second period. But they were sandwiched around Burrows’ short-handed goal, which gave the Canucks a 4-2.
“I thought we had a chance getting the five-minute power play,” said Oilers goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin. “We scored one, but we gave one right back. That’s unacceptable in a game like this when you’re down by three.”
The five-minute power play resulted after Vancouver’s Dale Weise was ejected at 8:28 of the second for sending Alex Plante face-first into the glass. Weise received a charging major and game misconduct. Plante lay on the ice for a few minutes and was guided to the dressing room with a towel covering cuts on his face. He did not return.
“I’m fine,” Plante said afterward, sporting cuts on his forehead and nose, declining to answer more questions before ducking into an area of the dressing room off-limits to reporters.
But Edmonton coach Tom Renney offered a different version.
“There’s lacerations and all kinds of stuff,” said Renney. “He’s got a sore head.”
The Oilers coach suggested Weise deserved a “sabbatical”—in other words a suspension—for the infraction. Renney accused the Canuck of deliberately attempting to make contact rather than take the puck off Plante as he carried it away from the boards.
“He came pretty hard,” said Renney. “He had a pretty good head of steam on him and he was after one thing, and that was the hit.”
Weise, a Winnipeg native, and Plante, a Brandon, Man., product actually know each other quite well. They have faced each other often in the minors and since they were about 13 years old playing minor hockey in Manitoba.
“Things happen so fast. I thought I caught him on the shoulder and he went in a vulnerable position,” said Weise. “I respect the call. Things happen so fast.”
Weise said he expects to get a call from league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. Last season, the NHL introduced new rules designed to reduce charging infractions.
Vancouver outshot the Oilers 26-21 overall and dominated a weary-looking Edmonton team in the first period, limiting the Oilers to only two shots in the first 14 and a half minutes. Vigneault said his club atoned for a poor effort in a 3-1 loss to Calgary in its last game before Christmas.
“It’s a lot more enjoyable for everybody when you go out there and put your work boots on,” said Vigneault. “That’s what our guys did tonight.”
Notes: Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo sported a new mask bearing a compilation of the original Canucks logo. The design was based on a mask worn by former Canucks vagabond goalie Curt Ridley, who played for the team from 1975-76 to 1979-80. The design was done by F.X. Allaire, the son of goaltending guru Francoise Allaire. Luongo plans to wear it when the Canucks don their vintage third jerseys. … Canucks D Keith Ballard returned to the lineup after sitting out two games with back spasms and a third for precautionary reasons. D Alexander Sulzer was scratched. … Edmonton was missing injured D Ryan Whitney (ankle) and winger Ales Hemsky (sinus and dizziness.)