Having come off the rails two weeks ago, the West Coast Express had no choice but to get back on track against the Edmonton Oilers last night at Rexall Place.
Losers of six of their last seven games and one point back of the Oilers in ninth place when the puck dropped, the Vancouver Canucks needed a win, and absolutely nothing less, in the first of three games between the teams in a span of five days.
Who'd have thought, with what's at stake, the Oilers would hit the switch themselves and help the Canucks on their way?
But, that's exactly how this pivotal tilt unfolded as the Canucks parlayed an undisciplined, penalty-filled display by the hosts to a 4-1 win, vaulting over the Oilers with their first victory in six tries in the season series.
Are the Canucks rolling again?
"Winning, especially after what they've gone through, is only going to make them feel better," said Michael Peca.
"It's disappointing. It's one of those things where why can't you make life easier on yourself instead of having to put yourself in a tough situation? It is what it is and we have to make the best of it."
TOO OFTEN SHORTHANDED
While the Oilers could argue referee Marc Joannette stuck it to them early, they spent much of the night shorthanded and took themselves out of the game - Vancouver had 10 power plays - because they got frustrated and hacked, elbowed and hooked their way into trouble.
That was all the margin the Canucks needed as they turned goals two goals by Daniel Sedin, who notched the winner 9:36 into the game on a power play, and singles by Trevor Linden and Ryan Kesler, into two points.
The next two games in this make-or-break trifecta are in Vancouver.
"We weren't disciplined enough," said Ethan Moreau, who took an elbow to Mattias Ohlund late in the second period and got whistled for it. "We knew coming in we couldn't take a lot of penalties, but we did.
"Some of them were a result of frustration. You try to get involved in the game and sometimes that happens."
Looking flat and listless, the Oilers dug a 2-0 hole in the first 20 minutes and it would have been considerably worse if not for Dwayne Roloson, who faced 17 shots.
GOTTA TURN THE TABLES
"They came out hard on us tonight and we have to turn the tables on them going into their building," Steve Staios said.
"We can't get too down about this game. We have to keep our confidence and go into that building with some good energy."
Burned by Vancouver's power play for 10 goals in 35 attempts coming in, the Oilers handed the Canucks four more chances and Sedin made it 2-0 - his shot deflected in off the stick of Edmonton captain Jason Smith - on one of them after Linden opened the scoring.
"It disrupts things," Peca said of the parade to the penalty box.
"It doesn't allow certain guys to get on the ice.
"On top of it, with everybody yelling at the referee, you're not going to get anything as the game goes on.
"The refs tune you out and little things as the game goes on seem to go against you."
When Raffi Torres narrowed it to 2-1 a minute into the second period, it looked like the Oilers might have something going.
Not so fast. After Kesler chipped a bouncing puck over Roloson to restore a two-goal lead at 12:09, the Oilers closed out the period with three more penalties. Sedin closed the show with an empty-netter.
"You have to do a better job of keeping your emotions in check," Moreau said.
AROUND THE RINK: Igor Ulanov was scratched for the 10th straight game ... After starting the season 13-1-0 at General Motors Place, the Canucks are a modest 7-7-4 in their last 18 home games ... Torres has five goals in six games against Vancouver.