Oilers beat mighty Canucks
ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency
|Oilers defenceman Corey Potter battles with Canucks forward Ryan Kesler at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alta., Oct. 25, 2011. (DAN RIEDLHUBER/Reuters)
EDMONTON - The Edmonton Oilers scored a week’s worth of goals Tuesday night, and it was barely enough.
They “erupted” for three straight against the Vancouver Canucks, just one fewer goal than they scored in their three previous starts, then hung on for dear life as the Canucks mounted a furious comeback.
But 3-2 is as close as the Canucks could get as the Oilers, down to five defencemen, improved to 4-1-1 at home this season.
With six of their first eight games at home, the Oilers needed to make some early ground and they have, earning points in five of those six starts.
“The recipe for success for playoff teams is to take care of business at home and go .500 on the road,” said winger Ryan Jones. “If you do that you’re going to find yourself in the playoffs. We have to make this a hard place to play, make it hard for teams to come in here and take any sort of points.”
The evening wasn’t without its casualties. Ryan Whitney, just three games and change back from almost a year on the shelf with a dislocated ankle tendon that required surgery, left the game between the first and second period after injuring his right knee. He and Corey Potter collided ankle-on-ankle midway through the first and Whitney hobbled off the ice and into the dressing room. He returned for one shift later but left for good after that.
Jordan Eberle, the subject of just about everyone’s pre-game story about not scoring any goals in the first seven games, scored a beauty 1:53 into the second period, beating Roberto Luongo with a bullet into the top left corner to give Edmonton a 1-0 lead.
“It feels good,” said Eberle. “We weren’t turning the puck over as much in the second and we found some goals.”
That would be the start of an Oilers avalanche. At 5:58 Luongo, trying to pick up the puck behind his own net, couldn’t, and on the ensuing turnover Ryan Smyth slid the puck in front to Shawn Horcoff, who had nothing but net.
Just 56 seconds after that, Hall scored his second of the season, completing a three-way-passing play from Eberle and Ryan Nugent Hopkins to make it 3-0.
The trip has eight of the 13 goals scored by Oilers forwards this season.
“We all play similar games,” said Eberle. “We know where we’re going to be and if we keep doing that we’re going to have success.”
That was it for Luongo, who got the hook, to deafening applause, after three goals in 15 shots in 26:54.
Nikolai Khabibulin was fantastic again, keeping Vancouver off the board until their 22nd shot of the game, which came just 31:29 into the game.
“I think it speaks to his character and what he’s all about,” said head coach Tom Renney. “I can’t say that I’m surprised at what he’s doing. We needed it, and that’s why I expected it.”
With the Oilers down to five defencemen, nothing was safe. The Canucks pressed them hard in the third perid and closed the gap to 3-2 on an Alex Burrows closed goal at 7:32.
Plenty of time left for things to go wrong.
They didn’t, though, as Edmonton held the fort for 13 wild minutes.
LATE HITS: Alex Edler went two for three on the night, crushing Nugent-Hopkins in the first period and Hall in the second... Horcoff’s goal gives him five points in the last five games... Sam Gagner left the game in the third period after tangling with a Canucks and sliding into the end boards. He’d only been back for five and a half periods after recovering from a high ankle sprain.