EDMONTON – It was another role reversal between first and worst in the NHL.
Devan Dubnyk made 26 saves as the last-place Edmonton Oilers played giant killers once again, defeating the first-place Vancouver Canucks for the second consecutive game with a 2-0 victory on Tuesday.
Ryan Jones and Magnus Paajarvi scored for the Oilers (25-43-11) who also defeated the Canucks 4-1 last Saturday to end an 11-game winless streak.
“We expected to be really pushed tonight,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. “We expected we’d have to bring everything we could to win this game. We fully expected Vancouver would be a much better team than they were in the last one at home. And we were equal to the task again.
“We want to grow up in front of our fans’ eyes. We want to give them a reason to believe in us. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
Dubnyk, who earned his second career shutout, said it was pretty satisfying to take out the league’s regular season champs in back-to-back games.
“It feels awesome,” he said. “We’ve done a good job the last two games. The odds were stacked pretty highly against us these last two games. I don’t think anybody really gave us a chance. It would have been easy to sit back and just believe that. It’s exciting that we said no way and went out there and did it.”
With the win the Oilers were able to pass the franchise-worst 60-point total they set in 1992-93.
The Canucks (52-19-9) have lost two in a row after winning 12 of 13 to clinch the Presidents’ Trophy for first overall in the league.
“We’re not happy about it,” said Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo. “We played a decent game but we need to have that desperation level in our game. Right now we don’t have much to play for and it is tough for some of the guys, but we know what we have to do. We need to have a couple good performances to get ready for the playoffs next week.”
Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault wasn’t overly concerned about his team.
“We have a very veteran group who are very mature,” he said. “They’ve always known what to do and I am very confident they will be fine.”
The Oilers had the better early opportunities as their young team came out flying. The best chance came on a quick shot from the slot by Chris Vande Velde that beat Luongo up high but rattled off of the crossbar.
Edmonton took a 1-0 lead with just three seconds left in the first period as Jones deflected home a Jordan Eberle shot on a power play. The goal was Jones’s 18th of the season.
Dubnyk, who earned his second shutout of the season, kept the Oilers ahead with a big pad save on Alexandre Burrows four minutes into the second period.
Luongo also came up big when needed in the second, standing his ground to deny Paajarvi on a partial breakaway midway through the period.
Vancouver led 18-14 in shots but remained down by a goal through 40 minutes.
The Canucks had a great opportunity to tie the game early in the third on a power play as a puck dribbled loose in front, but Ryan Kesler fanned on a chance to put it into the empty net.
Raffi Torres put Vancouver in tough with seven minutes to play as he seemed to go out of his way to throw an elbow to Eberle’s head, earning a major penalty.
Less than a minute later, Aaron Rome and Burrows went off for cross-checking at the same time.
Edmonton finally capitalized with just under three minutes to play as Linus Omark fed Paajarvi’s in front, and he beat Luongo to give the Oilers a 2-0 lead.
“I’ve never seen a four-minute five-on-three in my whole career,” Luongo said. “That’s the first I have ever seen that. We almost killed it off. Unfortunately they got one right at the end there.”
Torres defended his actions.
“It was a fine hit,” he said. “I was finishing my hit and he had his head down. We were both going for the puck. I’ve got to finish my hits. He was obviously in a vulnerable position but at the end of the day I have to finish my hit or else I am out of a job.
“If they are trying to get rid of clean hits like that, what’s this league going to be in a couple ofyears?”
The Oilers meet the Flames in Calgary on Wednesday. The Canucks play their final home game of the regular season against Minnesota on Thursday.
Notes: It was the sixth and final meeting between the two teams. Vancouver won the first four before Saturday’s surprise 4-1 win by the Oilers.…Defenceman Tom Gilbert was out with sore back. Gilbert saw his consecutive games streak end at 332.…Canucks forward Mikael Samuelsson returned after missing the last six games with a thigh injury. To make room for him in the lineup, Vancouver re-assigned Victor Oreskovich to the Manitoba Moose.…The Oilers were without forwards Colin Fraser and Gilbert Brule for the game. Brule who played just over four minutes in Saturday’s game against the Canucks, has played just 41 games this season because of illnesses, intestinal problems, a sprained ankle and a concussion.