VANCOUVER - The Edmonton Oilers were supposed to be toast on the coast — and they were — but not before showing all kinds of jam in Vancouver.
Bouyed by Monday’s win over San Jose and looking to win two in a row for the first time in two months with an upset at Rogers Arena, the Oilers turned in one of their most spirited and determined efforts in weeks.
They still lost, in the fifth round of a shootout that capped a fantastic game, but they showed more in a 3-2 defeat than they have in most of their wins.
“That was a really fun game to play in, to be honest,” said Taylor Hall, who had a dynamic and dominating night, setting up Shawn Horcoff for the first goal and scoring the tying goal himself with 4:11 left in the third period.
“We didn’t give up. For us to keep going and tie it up and play a game like we did, in back to back games, is very encouraging.”
Heading into the All-Star break with back-to-back victories over San Jose and Vancouver seemed too much to ask of most teams, let alone one that has struggled as badly as the Oilers have, but Oilers looked like they were going to pull it off.
Even the Canucks were a little taken aback by the will and hustle of their opponent.
“This is a game where you saw the speed and skill of Edmonton’s young players,” said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault. “And it was a great goaltending battle.”
“We’re not nearly as bad as we have been in the last month,” said defenceman Ryan Whitney, who played 18:27 in his return to the lineup. “Even though we got outshot really bad against San Jose we still won, and tonight we played really well. I kind of wish we were playing in two days — it’s tough to get a break when you’re building momentum. Hopefully it continues when we get back.”
They started a little slowly — at times they were hemmed in their own zone like mice in a maze — but they picked up confidence and steam as the game wore on and by the end of the second period were tied 1-1 and giving the Canucks all they could handle.
Daniel Sedin scored for Vancouver in the first and Shawn Horcoff replied for Edmonton in the second.
“Great game, fun to play in,” said Shawn Horcoff. “Lots of speed, chances at both ends, good battles. After our (bag skate) practice, this was pretty much our fourth game in four nights, and I thought we came out with a really good effort.
“Dubie played great again in net and Whitney came back and gave us some really good minutes. It just shows you his ability to move the puck and how it creates instant offence.”
The Oilers, 0-9-2 when tied after 40 minutes, saw it slipping out of their grasp in the third period when David Booth jumped on a loose puck in the crease to make it 2-1 at the five-minute mark.
But they kept coming until Hall scored on a power play deflection with 4:11 left to force a wild and wholly overtime.
Devan Dubnyk and Roberto Luongo were fantastic in net, with Dubnyk stopping 33 of 35 shots and Luongo 30 of 32.
“It was a battle zone in there,” said Dubnyk. “Both ways.”
Edmonton heads into the break with a 18-26-5 record, with eight of those wins coming in that glorious 8-2-2 October start.
LATE HITS: Ales Hemsky will not be suspended for his knee-on-knee hit on Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks on Monday night … Ben Eager, a healthy scratch Monday against the Sharks, also sat out Tuesday in Vancouver with a sore back.