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Markus Naslund scores and Canucks beat Oilers 4-2 in rough, fight-filled game

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

VANCOUVER - Roberto Luongo and the rest of the Vancouver Canucks gave new meaning to the term hard-fought victory Saturday night.

The Canuck goaltender battled through pain, several dangerous Edmonton scoring chances and his teammates fought with their fists as Vancouver doubled the Oilers 4-2 in a fight-filled Northwest Division contest before a sellout crowd of 18,630 at General Motors Place.

"We knew we needed the points and we played the type of hockey we needed to play to get the two points," said Luongo.

He made 24 saves, many of the sensational variety, as the Canucks (29-22-8) climbed over the idle Colorado Avalanche and into the eighth and final playoff berth in the NHL's ultra-tight Northwest Division. The Canucks also remained two points ahead of the surging Phoenix Coyotes.

Luongo was shaken up on two occasions in the first period, in a collision with Edmonton's Marty Reasoner, and in the second, when he stopped a hard Tom Gilbert shot with his shoulder.

Several fights ensued in the game's dying moments, after Alex Burrows secured the victory with an empty-net goal. The teams combined for 193 minutes in penalties, with Edmonton receiving 101 minutes and the Canucks 92.

After Burrows scored, Oilers forward Jarret Stoll brushed by him at the side of the net and Burrows responded with a wild one-handed swing that caught Stoll on the skates, touching off a wild scrum behind the Oilers goal. All eight skaters squared off again with nine seconds left, and three more fights broke out with 3.5 seconds left, a fitting ending to a game that started with both penalty boxes overflowing.

Daniel Sedin scored the winning goal at 7:15 of the final frame as he one-timed a pass from his twin brother Henrik's goalmouth pass. The goal culminated a bang-bang, three-way passing play that began when Markus Naslund fed Henrik Sedin.

Naslund and Sami Salo also scored for the Canucks.

Reasoner and Kyle Brodziak tallied for Edmonton (27-28-5), which saw a two-game winning streak end.

"I thought we did great tonight and showed a lot of character," said Vancouver centre Ryan Kesler.

"We're family here and we have each other's back. And when you get cheap shots thrown at me and other guys you know someone on this team's going to stick up for you, and that's huge for a team like this."

The fights began in the first period after Matt Greene felled Kesler with an elbow to the head. Canucks winger Brad Isbister promptly fought Greene, setting the stage for more fisticuffs in the final two periods.

Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said that Canuck winger Matt Cooke gave Edmonton defenceman Mathieu Roy a face-plant into the boards in the closing moments, but had few complaints about the other rough stuff.

"It was just two teams playing hard and good aggressive hockey and both teams realized how important the game was, and quite clearly form the outset it was going to be a physical game and thats the way it ended," said MacTavish. "I was fine with that."

MacTavish defended his decision to put out enforcer Zach Stortini in the final minute.

"Did you see the game he played? He was one of our best players," said MacTavish. "He was unreal tonight, why wouldn't he be on the ice? He played terrific, he was plus-one, he was all over the opposition. If he's going to play like that, he'll play a lot."

Brodziak forged a 2-2 lead at 17:14 of the second as he put the puck into an open net after Luongo had stopped two shots, by Stortini and Gilbert, and fallen on the seat of his pants. The goal came after Luongo was shaken up on the shot by Gilbert.

"That's going to happen once in a while, that's the way it is especially when you play a rival team like that," said Luongo of the physical activities.

Each team had 26 shots apiece, but Edmonton clearly had the more dangerous opportunities.

Luongo's finest moment came as he dove across his crease to get the paddle of his stick on shot by Sam Gagner after the Edmonton centre faced an open net in the first.

The game got off to a wacky start as Edmonton's Stortini and Vancouver's Byron Ritchie tussled only 11 seconds into the contest.

While Mattias Ohlund was called for slashing on the play, an ensuing skirmish sent two other players from each team to the penalty boxes.

By the time 5:39 had elapsed, referees Mike Leggo and Dan O'Halloran called 44 minutes worth of penalties.

NOTES-Canuck winger Trevor Linden played his 100th career game against Edmonton . . . Rookie defenceman Luc Bourdon drew into the Vancouver lineup while fellow first-year blue-liner Nathan McIver was a healthy scratch . . . Daniel Sedin and Markus Naslund are the only two Canucks with 20 or more goals this season . . . Edmonton goaltender Mathieu Garon received a rare diving penalty after Daniel Sedin knocked him into his net at 5:39 of the first. Sedin was called for goaltender interference.


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