Oilers beat first-place Canucks again
It was another role reversal for the best and worst teams in the NHL.
Devan Dubnyk made 26 saves, Ryan Jones and Magnus Paajarvi scored and the last-place Edmonton Oilers beat the first-place Vancouver Canucks for the second consecutive game, 2-0 on Tuesday night.
Dubnyk got his second shutout of the season for the Oilers, who won 4-1 at Vancouver on Saturday to snap an 11-game winless streak.
''We expected to be really pushed tonight,'' Oilers coach Tom Renney said. ''We expected we'd have to bring everything we could to win this game. We fully expected Vancouver would be a much better team than they were in the last one at home, and we were equal to the task again.
''We want to grow up in front of our fans' eyes. We want to give them a reason to believe in us. That's what we're trying to do.''
Edmonton, last in the league with 61 points, topped the franchise-worst 60 it had in 1992-93.
Dubnyk said it was pretty satisfying to take out the league's regular season champs in back-to-back games.
''It feels awesome,'' he said. ''We've done a good job the last two games. The odds were stacked pretty highly against us these last two games. I don't think anybody really gave us a chance. It would have been easy to sit back and just believe that. It's exciting that we said no way and went out there and did it.''
The Canucks have lost consecutive games after winning 12 of 13 to clinch the Presidents Trophy for the league's top record.
''We're not happy about it,'' Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo said. ''We played a decent game, but we need to have that desperation level in our game. Right now, we don't have much to play for and it is tough for some of the guys, but we know what we have to do. We need to have a couple good performances to get ready for the playoffs next week.''
Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault wasn't overly concerned about his team.
''We have a very veteran group who are very mature,'' he said. ''They've always known what to do, and I am very confident they will be fine.''
The Oilers had the better early opportunities as their young team came out flying. The best chance came on a quick shot from the slot by Chris Vande Velde that beat Luongo up high, but rattled off of the crossbar.
Edmonton took a 1-0 lead with just three seconds left in the first period as Jones deflected Jordan Eberle's shot on a power play. The goal was Jones's 18th of the season.
Dubnyk kept the Oilers ahead with a big pad save on Alexandre Burrows four minutes into the second period.
Luongo also came up big when needed in the second, standing his ground to deny Paajarvi on a partial breakaway midway through the period.
Vancouver led 18-14 in shots, but remained down by a goal through 40 minutes.
The Canucks had a great opportunity to tie the game early in the third on a power play as a puck dribbled loose in front, but Ryan Kesler fanned on a chance to put it into the empty net.
Raffi Torres put Vancouver in a tough position with seven minutes to play as he seemed to go out of his way to throw an elbow to Eberle's head, earning a major penalty.
''It was a fine hit,'' Torres said, defending his actions. ''I was finishing my hit and he had his head down. We were both going for the puck. I've got to finish my hits. He was obviously in a vulnerable position, but at the end of the day I have to finish my hit or else I am out of a job.
''If they are trying to get rid of clean hits like that, what's this league going to be in a couple of years?''
Less than a minute later, Aaron Rome and Burrows went off for cross-checking at the same time.
Edmonton finally capitalized with just under three minutes to play as Linus Omark fed Paajarvi's in front, and he beat Luongo.
''I've never seen a four-minute 5-on-3 in my whole career,'' Luongo said. ''That's the first I have ever seen that. We almost killed it off. Unfortunately, they got one right at the end there.''
NOTES: It was the sixth and final meeting between the two teams. Vancouver won the first four before Saturday's first of two surprise wins by the Oilers. ... Edmonton D Tom Gilbert was out with sore back. He saw his consecutive games streak end at 332. ... Canucks F Mikael Samuelsson returned after missing the last six games with a thigh injury. To make room for him in the lineup, Vancouver re-assigned Victor Oreskovich to Manitoba of the AHL. ... The Oilers were without C Colin Fraser and C Gilbert Brule for the game. Brule, who played just over four minutes in Saturday's game against the Canucks, has played just 41 games this season because of illnesses, intestinal problems, a sprained ankle and a concussion.