VANCOUVER – Daniel Sedin hasn’t been able to shake teammate Ryan Kesler in the NHL goal-scoring race.
Not that he minds. In fact, he thinks the friendly rivalry helps make the Vancouver Canucks dangerous.
Sedin broke the game open with a pair of goals early in the second period, and Kesler put it away late by completing his second hat trick of the season during Vancouver’s 6-1 rout of the Edmonton Oilers on Friday in front of a raucous sellout crowd of 18,810 at Rogers Arena.
Sedin is third in the NHL with 24 goals, while Kesler has 23.
“It’s good (competition),” Sedin said. “We need guys pushing each other on different spots on this team, and we’re doing that right now. That’s why we’re a good team.”
Sedin’s goals came during a dominant six-minute six-second span early in the second period that saw the Canucks score on their first three shots of the frame.
Kesler also scored during that outburst, and added two more in the third period as Vancouver (27-8-5) improved to 13-0-2 in its past 15 games—the best stretch in franchise history—and maintained its hold atop the NHL standings with 59 points.
Alexander Edler also scored for Vancouver, while Henrik Sedin added three assists as the Canucks won their eighth straight.
Ales Hemsky replied for Edmonton (13-20-7), which couldn’t build on the momentum of Thursday’s 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders. The Oilers have lost eight of their past nine games.
“We played the best team in the NHL tonight and we lost by five—you don’t hand the puck over to a team like this,” said Oilers coach Tom Renney, whose club went an abysmal 17 of 54 in the faceoff circle for a 31 per cent success rate.
“Unfortunately that’s the way here with the Oilers and when you’re not starting with the puck most often it’s a hard game to play.”
Kesler had no career hat tricks entering this season, and wasn’t having much luck early in the campaign breaking the trend. Twice he had two-goal games—one in Ottawa and one in Toronto—and both times he hit the post on his attempt for a third goal.
The 26-year-old centre now has two hat tricks in less than a month after recording his first on Dec. 15 in a 3-2 victory over Columbus.
“Two in a month is pretty good. I’ll try for three in a month,” Kesler said after the game as the crowd gave him a standing ovation. “It’s happening for me right now. I’m just having fun with this.”
As for catching Daniel Sedin, Kesler isn’t holding his breath.
“He’s obviously a pure goal scorer so there’s no way I’ll be able to keep up with him,” Kesler said.
Countered Sedin: “I’m scoring all of my goals within six feet and he scores a lot from the blue-line. He’s got a great shot and he’s showing it.”
After the Sedin twins spun some magic to make it 1-0 30 seconds into the second period, Kesler used his patented wrist shot to make it 2-0 1:34 later.
He deflected a Dan Hamhuis shot to make it 4-1 early in the third period, then tipped in a power-play point shot for a 5-1 lead.
Edmonton has been a favourite target for Daniel Sedin over the years. The sniper now has 29 goals in 58 games against the Oilers, his best total against any NHL team.
As usual, it was Henrik Sedin who did the playmaking, feeding his twin brother perfect passes on each of the goals. The first goal came on a give and go, and the second on a perfectly executed 2-on-1 to give the Canucks a 3-0 lead.
At the other end, Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider was impressive in his fifth start in the past eight games.
Schneider was confident, read the play well and was always in position in improving to 8-0-2 this season.
He robbed Taylor Hall on a point-blank chance with the game still scoreless, Hemsky on a breakaway and then made a spectacular glove save off a Dustin Penner one-timer from the side of the net with the Oilers enjoying a 4-on-3 man advantage.
“I’ve got to be leading the league in run support,” said Schneider. “It seems like every time we play I get four, five, six goals and that’s been a big part of my record. But at same time it’s on me to make some early saves and keep it scoreless and keep us in the game and give us the opportunity to open it up.”
The lone puck to beat him came with 0.3 seconds left in the second period, as Hemsky jammed the puck past his right pad at the side of the net to make it 3-1.
Edler scored a late power-play goal to round out the scoring.
NOTES: The Canucks improved to 4-0 against Edmonton and 11-1-0 versus the Northwest Division. … Alex Burrows played his 400th career game, recording an assist. He has 192 points (93 goals, 99 assists). … Edmonton’s Gilbert Brule, who had goals in two straight games, did not play after suffering a chest injury against New York on Thursday. … The Canucks scratched C Alex Bolduc and put winger Aaron Volpatti in the lineup. Tanner Glass, usually a left winger, took Bolduc’s spot at centre on the fourth line.