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Oilers special teams shine in 3-2 win over Canucks

The Canadian Press
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The Hockey News
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Oilers special teams shine in 3-2 win over Canucks

The Canadian Press
By:

The Oilers scored all their goals with the man advantage and killed seven of eight Vancouver power plays in a 3-2 pre-season win Saturday night over the Canucks. It was the last exhibition game for both clubs.

"Last year showed how big the power play and penalty kill is," said Shawn Horcoff after his cross-ice pass set up Raffi Torres for the overtime winner.

"We were able to kill some key penalties and win the game in overtime on the power play. We scored all our goals on the power play and it's been a long time since our team has been able to do that."

The goal came after pesky Vancouver winger Matt Cooke took a costly double minor with seven seconds remaining in regulation when he crashed Oiler defenceman Jason Smith into the end boards.

Torres was alone in front of Vancouver netminder Wade Flaherty during a 4-on-3 power play when he slid Horcoff's pass into the open net.

"It was a good last pre-season game to get us ready for the regular season," said Torres who scored twice in five exhibition contests. "Any team that is going to be up in our (Northwest) Division ... it's going to be a big game.

"We'd like to take away some of our penalties but we're pretty happy with where we're at."

The testy game looked like anything but an exhibition contest as two fights broke out, one of them involving Cooke.

"It was pretty intense but it's nice to get a game like that in there," said Horcoff. "It's been quite different than what the other pre-season games have been."

Ryan Smyth and Joffrey Lupul also counted with the Canucks short-handed.

Smyth set up Lupul for his third goal in as many games in the first period then deflected Petr Sykora's blue line blast in the second.

Daniel Sedin scored twice and has a team-leading five goals in five exhibition games.

The victory improved the Western Conference champions' record to 6-2 while the Canucks, who finished a point behind Edmonton and out of the playoffs last season, slipped to 2-5-1.

Markus Naslund, reunited again with the Sedin twins on the top line, started plays that gave Vancouver a 2-2 tie entering the third period.

Daniel Sedin tied the game after Henrik tipped the puck to him for a high shot behind goalie Dwayne Roloson. Earlier, he redirected Henrik's cross-crease pass behind the goalie.

While the Canucks surrendered three goals on seven Oiler power plays, they are also struggling with the man advantage. Dressing lineups close to the one that will start the season, they are 1-for-17 in their last two games.

"I think we have our work cut out for us there," Naslund said. "I also think we have to make some minor tweaks and look at what isn't working.

"It's good that we have five days to work on those things."

In addition, the Canucks gave up several breakaways while on the power play.

But Flaherty, seeking to back up Roberto Luongo at age 38, had a better start Saturday after being torched for five goals on 15 shots in a 40-minute outing Wednesday in Edmonton.

He went down to stop Horcoff on a break-in, kicked out a labelled Sykora shot and stacked the pads to foil Jarret Stoll on his doorstep. In the third period, he twice denied speedy Ethan Moreau on break-ins.

"We have different guys out there and different looks," Daniel Sedin said of coach Alain Vignault's line juggling. "We knew it was going to be tough but we have to create more scoring chances than we did.

"Special teams have to be better. That has been a strong (point) for this team so I'm not too worried about that."

Notes: The Canucks open their season Thursday in Detroit while the Oilers play host to the Calgary Flames. . . . Edmonton beat Vancouver 5-4 on Wednesday. . . . Fernando Pisani and Matt Greene were kept out of the Oilers' lineup for what the club called precautionary measures but both are expected to practise on Monday.

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Oilers special teams shine in 3-2 win over Canucks