The Nuge was huge for Edmonton, and it still wasn’t enough.
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Sami Salo scored twice and the Vancouver Canucks overcame a hat trick by rookie sensation Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to beat the Oilers 4-3 on Saturday night.
Henrik Sedin and Alexandre Burrows each added a goal for the Canucks, who improved to 2-2-1 after losing to Boston in the Stanley Cup finals last season.
”We find ways to win games,” said Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo, who stopped 23 shots. ”It’s just that comfort level I think the guys have. Going into the third, no matter what the score is, we feel we can win.”
With the score tied 3-all, Salo capitalized on a turnover in the Oilers zone midway through the third period and ripped a wrist shot from the high slot under the stick-side arm of goalie Devan Dubnyk.
The victory spoiled a breakout performance by the 18-year-old Nugent-Hopkins, the No. 1 pick in last summer’s entry draft.
With the Oilers down 1-0, Nugent-Hopkins took a pass from Jordan Eberle at the side of the crease and got three whacks at the puck against Luongo. Nugent-Hopkins knocked it out of the air on the third try to put it in for his second goal of the season at 13:44.
He gave the Oilers the lead with half a minute to go in the period.
Edmonton defenseman Tom Gilbert wristed the puck from the point and Nugent-Hopkins redirected the shot on the backhand from the faceoff dot past Luongo.
His third goal came on a wrist shot from in close through a jumble of players in front of Luongo on a power play late in the second period. The replay suggested teammate Taylor Hall finally knocked the puck over the goal line, but the officials awarded the goal to Nugent-Hopkins.
”The message from the coaches was to go hard into the blue paint and I’ve been trying to do that,” he said.
When the goal was announced a minute later, the referees were forced to stop play as fans showered the ice with hats.
”I definitely didn’t expect to have that kind of a start. I just want to keep it going,” Nugent-Hopkins said.
After his third goal, the euphoria was short-lived.
With 15 seconds left in the second period, Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin swooped around the back of the net and passed to Burrows in front for a tip-in goal to make it 3-3.
Vancouver opened the scoring at 8:49 of the first period. With Oilers forward Ryan Smyth in the penalty box for tripping, Salo took advantage of a scramble in front of the net to tee up the puck in the high slot and hammer it low past the glove of Dubnyk.
The Canucks tied the game early in the second period with two Oilers in the penalty box.
On a scramble in front of Dubnyk, Henrik Sedin whacked the puck out of the air and just over the goal line for the Swede’s second goal of the season.
NOTES: It was a tough night for Oilers wing Darcy Hordichuk. Before the game, the former Canucks tough guy told his teammates to keep their heads up. Instead, it was Hordichuk who got knocked out early in the first period with a knee injury when he tried to run over Keith Ballard but ended up flying over Ballard’s outstretched hip. … Oilers forward Linus Omark went down in the third period after a slap shot from teammate Andy Sutton off the face. … Oilers wing Ales Hemsky did not dress, awaiting results on an MRI for a sore shoulder. … The Oilers play eight games in the next two weeks.