VANCOUVER – A season that was supposed to be different for the Edmonton Oilers has started out looking much the same as the past.
The Oilers were overmatched 6-2 by the Vancouver Canucks Saturday night, leaving them winless after two games of the NHL season. Edmonton lost 5-4 at home to the Winnipeg Jets Tuesday in a game the Oilers led 4-2 at one point.
Edmonton coach Dallas Eakins said his team was out played.
“If you’re not going to battle, or win battles, or compete like every shift is your last one, you’re not going to win in this league,” said the frustrated coach. “That was very evident tonight for our team.”
A promising start against the Canucks quickly turned sour. Defenceman Jeff Petry scored with less than two minutes gone. Vancouver replied with five unanswered goals, including two in 18 seconds in the first period.
“We got outplayed right from the start of the game, a lot of battles lost,” said Edmonton’s Taylor Hall. “They just took it too us and we couldn’t recover.
“There are a lot of things we have to improve on. You get that first goal in a building like this, you really want to build off that. We certainly didn’t do that.”
Vancouver’s Brad Richardson scored on a short-handed breakaway off a turnover and defenceman Dan Hamhuis scored on a long shot from the blue-line. Goaltender Devan Dubnyk didn’t look good on either goal even though Hamhuis’s shot deflected off Petry’s stick. Edmonton was also called for 13 penalties for 40 minutes.
“That short-handed goal set us back,” said defenceman Ladislav Smid. “It shouldn’t affect us that way.
“The other thing was the amount of penalties we took tonight. It cost us the game.”
The Canucks scored on a power play after Hall took a needless boarding penalty. Hall, who has been shifted to wing from his normal centre position because of an injury to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, was on the ice for four Canuck goals.
“I’ve never been minus-four before,” Hall sighed. “I am playing a position I am not 100 per cent comfortable with. That’s not really an excuse.”
Vancouver added another short-handed goal late in the third period when the Oilers pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker.
Dubnyk was replaced by backup Jason LaBarbera after Ryan Kesler made it 5-1 in the second period. Dubnyk allowed five goals on 31 shots.
“I thought 31 shots was enough,” said Eakins, who saw Dubnyk allow five goals on 28 shots Tuesday. “It was craziness there for the poor kid.
“He was in there battling as hard as he can and we’re giving him absolutely no support.”
Edmonton was outshot 44-23.
Boyd Gordon had the other Oiler goal. Edmonton lost forward Jesse Joensuu early with a back injury. Eakins said he would be evaluated Sunday.
Edmonton hasn’t made the playoffs since losing Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final back in 2006.
Eakins has said it’s time for the Oilers, who have three players picked first overall in the NHL draft, to shed the label of a young team.
“It’s a long year,” said Hall. “There is a lot of time left for us to make up the last two games. We just have to make sure this part of the season, when we’re losing, is as short as possible. We have to regroup.”