Oilers 4, Canucks 1
The rebuilding Edmonton Oilers had no problem getting up to play the NHL-leading Vancouver Canucks.
Led by goals from young forwards Jordan Eberle, Linus Omark and Magnus Paajarvi, and 40 saves by Devan Dubnyk, Edmonton snapped a nearly monthlong losing streak with a 4-1 victory over Vancouver on Saturday night.
Veteran defenseman Kurtis Foster opened the scoring for the last-place Oilers, who snapped an 11-game skid (0-8-3) and handed Vancouver its first loss in six.
''That's why you savor opportunities like this,'' Oilers coach Tom Renney said. ''This is the best team in the National Hockey League and we get a chance to put our young guys through the acid test.
''Our young guys managed up to the task.''
Alex Burrows scored and Cory Schneider made 30 saves for Vancouver, which came out slow one game after clinching the league's best record for the first time. It was the second loss in 14 games for the Canucks, who came in leading the NHL in goals, goals against, and both special teams.
''This is kind of a good thing, I think,'' Canucks forward Raffi Torres said. ''We need to humble ourselves a little bit. Things have been going almost too good lately.''
Vancouver came in with almost twice as many points - 113-57 - as the Oilers, but it didn't matter on this night.
''We were five percent off in everything we did and you can't have that in this league,'' captain Henrik Sedin said. ''We didn't come close to being good enough.''
The rebuilding Oilers avoided - at least for one day - a loss that would have assured them a last-place finish in the 30-team league, by getting up to play a team that had beaten them four straight times this season.
''Nobody expects you to have a chance, and you take that as motivation,'' Dubnyk said. ''It's such a big night. This is the best team in the league and we beat them. It's a pretty special feeling and it shows all us young guys in here it can done if you buckle down and play the game.''
The Oilers are seven points behind Colorado with four games left, including a rematch against the Canucks in Edmonton on Tuesday night.
''A confidence builder,'' said Eberle, who added an assist. ''It was awesome to beat the Presidents' Trophy winner, and now we get another shot at them.''
Foster opened the scoring on a power play with 3:14 left in the first period, ripping a shot off the post and in. Eberle, who assisted on that one, added a power-play goal from a sharp angle 2:53 into the second period.
Omark made it 3-0 off the rush midway through the period, and set up Paajarvi's goal with a nice pass from behind the net midway through the third.
Burrows spoiled Dubnyk's shutout bid with 4:40 left in the second, snapping a shot under his blocker arm from the right faceoff dot.
It was the first loss in six starts for Schneider, the rookie backup who came in with a .930 save percentage in 22 appearances behind No. 1 Roberto Luongo.
''They were very excited, motivated about playing us, and they deserved to win,'' Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said.
NOTES: Oilers 20-year-old C Teemu Hartikainen had an assist in his eighth NHL game but fired wide on a penalty shot late in the second period. ... Canucks LW Tanner Glass returned after missing nine games with a rib injury. ... Vancouver D Yann Sauve played after being called up from the AHL to replace Chris Tanev, who is out with an undisclosed upper body injury. He was slammed face first into the boards on Thursday. ... Canucks defensemen Alex Edler (back surgery) and Andrew Alberts (broken wrist) returned to practice on Friday and should be back by the playoffs.