SUN Hockey Pool

Total team effort

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:22 AM ET

The Edmonton Oilers didn't exactly beat them in the alley, but they got enough licks in on the scoreboard last night to post a key Northwest division victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

It wasn't the battle royal many anticipated, but there were a few fights and while Vancouver got the better of two and tied the other, it was small consolation for missing an opportunity to really put some distance between themselves and the Oilers.

"I expected this out of us," captain Ethan Moreau said after the 3-0 win.

"Storts and Struds (Zack Stortini and Jason Strudwick) came into the lineup and did a great job for us, provided some energy. Roli (Dwayne Roloson) played awesome. We got a huge goal from our best player (Ales Hemsky).

"Our penalty killing was good, power play was good. Everything we needed. At times it feels like we need to play the perfect game and that was pretty close."

Moreau was right about everything but the power play -- which was terrible.

The Oilers scored a goal in each period for their fourth win in five games and Roloson posted his first shutout of the season to lift the 14-12-2 Oilers to within five points of Vancouver and Calgary for the division lead.

"It was an important game for us," said head coach Craig MacTavish.

"We're trying to work our way back into the divisional race. We definitely needed the game here tonight.

"I kind of got the sense they were going to try to run us out of the building, but right from the outset Zack set the tone and Struds did too on his first shift.

"It was the first game, really, all year where I can say everybody played well. It was the first really complete 60 minute game we've had all year."

The physical play that everyone was expecting showed itself early, with Stortini and Darcy Hordichuk dropping the mitts 5:43 into the first period and Strudwick and Rob Davison getting into it three minutes later.

Shane O'Brien and Kyle Brodziak also fought early in the second period.

"Sometimes confrontation is going to happen, but it's a small part of the game when you consider all of the battling in the corners and in front of the net," said Strudwick. "I thought our guys did a great job of that."

"We initiated the physical play," said Moreau.

"It's always a good sign when the fights happen because they're responding to what you did.

"We came out with an edge and playing physical. And physical means coming out and going to the net hard."

The Oilers spent a lot of the night on the forecheck, where it was hard for the Canucks, who were either on their heels or in the penalty box, to employ the rough and tumble game plan that's served them so well in the past.

"They're an emotional team; they get a lot of emotion off the battles," said Strudwick. "So you definitely have to get in there. We kind of beat them at their own game."

After going 60 minutes and 41 shots without a goal Thursday night against Florida, Edmonton made it 1-0 on its first shot on net last night, just 49 seconds into contest.

Dustin Penner put Edmonton on the board with his eighth of the season on a weak backhand that goalie Curtis Sanford should have had.

They extended their lead when Hemsky scored at 18:27 of the second, electing to shoot on a three-on-one.

Robert Nilsson scored on a long breakway to make it 3-0 at the 2:20 mark of the third period to seal it.


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