Canucks perfect so far

HOSEA CHEUNG, 24 HOURS VANCOUVER

, Last Updated: 8:10 AM ET

With a 2-1 win over the Oilers on Tuesday night, the Vancouver Canucks are off to a perfect start in preseason play with a 2-0 record.

Thanks to goals from enforcer Darcy Hordichuk and rookie Michael Grabner, the Canucks sweep the home-and-away series with Edmonton.

Although Roberto Luongo only played for the first half of the game, the all-star goaltender kicked his preseason off with a tremendous save on Oilers' Colin McDonald two minutes into the match. The Edmonton left winger found himself with an open net all alone in front but was robbed by the outreaching glove of Luongo.

With a total of three fights, multiple scrums and numerous hits, both teams provided fans with a physical contest. Heading into the offseason, Canucks' GM Mike Gillis intended to build a grittier squad and he's definitely accomplished that, as shown Tuesday night.

Younger tough guys such as Mike Brown and Nathan McIver went toe-to-toe with Oiler knucklers' Adam Huxley and Zach Stortini, while Kevin Bieksa and Brown led in hits with three each.

Another contributor to the team toughness was off-season acquisition Steve Bernier, who made his presence felt all night long.

A solid force in front of the net, the 225 lbs winger was wreaking havoc in front of Oilers' goaltender Dwayne Roloson, while becoming the common target during after-whistle scrums.

On a night when all eyes were on Cody Hodgson, it was two other youngsters who shone as Jannik Hansen and Michael Grabner combined for the winning goal.

Playing alongside Henrik Sedin, the two speedsters put Vancouver ahead three minutes into the second period when Hansen outskated an Oiler's defensemen and managed to backhand the puck in front for Grabner, who finished the play into an open net.

It's going to be tough for these three to land a spot on Vancouver's roster, but the line of Alex Bolduc, Mike Brown, and Mark Cullen still brought their A-game against Edmonton.

The trio made a formidable energy line, where at one point they hemmed the Oilers in their own zone for well over a minute.

Bolduc also showcased his speed with a great burst to put Vancouver on a two-on-zero situation during the penalty kill.

Unlike Monday night, the Oilers put forth a younger lineup as roster mainstays such as Sheldon Souray, Lubomir Visnovsky, Ales Hemsky, Erik Cole, and Dustin Penner all sat out for the second game of the home-and-away.

It showed as the scoring for both sides were down and the sloppiness was up.

Leading the team with an 85 per cent winning rate, Ryan Johnson showed why he was brought in to help a struggling aspect of last year's team.

Johnson won 11 of 13 faceoffs, while Henrik Sedin won 11 of 15 draws, helping Vancouver finish with a 66 per cent advantage in faceoffs won.

Although the Canucks are reporting that the first home preseason game was a sell out, there were quite a visible amount of empty seats.

Maybe it's due to a Tuesday night, maybe it's due to a televised game, or maybe it's due to ticket prices that are the same as regular season. Whatever the case, the Garage was not packed.

Hoping to build on their perfect preseason record, Vancouver heads to the Shark Tank to take on San Jose Saturday at 7:30 p.m.


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