Ethan Moreau fired in a slap shot 51 seconds after the opening
faceoff and the Oilers held for a 2-1 victory Tuesday night. The
Oilers made it two goals on two shots when rookie Patrick Thoresen
slipped a shot past Dany Sabourin two minutes later.
"They deserved the win," Canucks captain Marcus Naslund said.
"They played better than we did and made better decisions with the
puck and generated more offense even though they might not have
played their best game."
Oilers coach Craig MacTavish wasn't worried about style points
or the little bit of offense. He was relieved his team found a way
to stay ahead.
"We have some guys who are in need of a break around the net,
in need of a goal," he said. "The good thing is that we are
finding ways to win in the interim.
"We put some pressure on them early, and it looked like it
could be a pretty one-sided affair. Then, for whatever reason, we
weren't getting the shots. Sabourin was able to get comfortable in
Edmonton goalie Jussi Markkanen, making his first start since
Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, showed a bit of early rust but
was able to correct his mistakes. With the Oilers on the power
play, Markkanen gave up the puck behind the net before recovering
and making a save with a desperate leap to preserve the 2-0 lead.
"I got a little unlucky losing the puck and then I got really
lucky getting back in time to stop it," Markkanen said. "It was
good they didn't score there because it could have been a different
game after that. But I felt confident in net."
Still down by two goals midway through the third period, the
Canucks had a prime scoring chance as they skated with a two-man
advantage, but they couldn't beat Markkanen.
With 2½ minutes left, Naslund ruined Markkanen's shutout bid
with a power-play goal. That's as close as the Canucks would get.
Vancouver forward Trevor Linden sat out as coach Alain Vigneault
is trying to make sure the 36-year-old right winger doesn't get too
worn down throughout the season.
"We felt that last year at times Trevor looked a bit tired,"
Vigneault said. "I have to think about what is best for Trevor
Linden and for the team. A fresher Trevor Linden, according to what
I've been told, is going to be beneficial for us down the road."
Edmonton won last season's series 6-1-1. ... Sabourin also
made his first start of the season. ... The Oilers have apparently
adopted a unique player of the game system, awarding the honored
player with a 1970's style long leather jacket with a fur collar to
be worn home.