The Oilers scored two goals in their first two tries of the game to beat the Canucks 2-1. Ethan Moreau blasted a slapshot from the point over the shoulder of Canucks starter Dany Sabourin just 51 seconds in, scoring on Edmonton’s first shot of the game. Two minutes later, Oilers rookie Patrick Thoresen slipped what turned out to be the game winner past Sabourin.
“They deserved the win,” said Canucks captain Marcus Naslund. “They played better than we did and made better decisions with the puck and generated more offence even though they might not have played their best game.”
Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish didn’t feel either team would want the scoresheet framed and was just relieved his team held on for the win.
“We have some guys who are in need of a break around the net, in need of a goal,” he said. “The good thing is that we are finding ways to win in the interim.
“We put some pressure on them early and it looked like it could be a pretty one-sided affair. And then for whatever reason we weren’t getting the shots and Sabourin was able to get comfortable in net
Oilers netminder Jussi Markkanen, making his first start since Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final, showed a bit of rust in the Edmonton net early himself, but he was able to correct his miscues.
With the Oilers on the power play, Markkanen coughed up the puck behind the net but was able to recover and made a save on a desperate leap to keep Edmonton ahead 2-0.
“I got a little unlucky losing the puck and then I got really lucky getting back in time to stop it,” said Markkanen. “It was good they didn’t score there because it could have been a different game after that. But I felt confident in net tonight.”
That was the only real moment of excitement in the scoreless second as the two teams seemed determined to put Edmonton’s 35th consecutive sell-out crowd of 16,839 in to sleep.
The Canucks were able to make a late charge and with just two and a half minutes remaining as Naslund ruined Markkanen’s shutout bid with a power-play goal. But that’s as close as the Canucks would get as Edmonton held on for the victory.
Veteran Trevor Linden was absent from the Vancouver lineup. Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault says the plan is to make sure Linden doesn’t wear out over the course of the season.
“We felt that last year at times Trevor looked a bit tired,” he said. “I have to think about what is best for Trevor Linden and for the team. A fresher Trevor Linden, according to what I’ve been told, is going to beneficial for us down the road.”
The Canucks (3-3-1) play the second match of their five game road swing on Friday in St. Louis. Edmonton (4-2) continues its three game home stand on Saturday with their first game against Detroit since knocking the Red Wings out of last season’s playoffs in the first round.
Notes: Edmonton owned the season series between the two clubs last year with a 6-1-1 record versus the Canucks . . . It was the first start of the season for both Markkanen and Sabourin . . . The Oilers have adopted a unique player of the game system, where they make the MVP of the match wear home a 70’s style long leather jacket with a fur collar.