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Souray's marker proves to be the difference as Oilers edge Canucks 3-2

The Canadian Press
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Vancouver Canucks goaltender Curtis Sandford, right, reacts to Edmonton Oilers\' Sheldon Souray\'s goal as Oilers Ales Hemsky, left, of Czech Republic, skates past during second period NHL hockey action at GM Place in Vancouver Friday Dec. 26, 2008. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward Author: The Hockey News

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Souray's marker proves to be the difference as Oilers edge Canucks 3-2

The Canadian Press
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VANCOUVER, B.C. - Sheldon Souray didn't want to take credit for Edmonton's victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Friday night.

Souray's late second-period goal stood up as the winner as the Edmonton Oilers edged the Canucks 3-2 at General Motors Place.

But the veteran defenceman touted goaltender Dwayne Roloson as the reason the Oilers (16-14-3), who have struggled most of the season, posted their second straight win.

"He won the game for us tonight," said Souray.

Roloson allowed only one goal in the third period, during a 5-on-3 Canuck power play at 1:46, as the Canucks outshot the Oilers 14-3 during a desperate, but ill-fated comeback attempt in the final frame.

"It's pretty hard to explain, but for a goalie it's fun," said Roloson of the intense activity.

The 39-year-old Simcoe, Ont., native has battled with Mathieu Garon for Edmonton's No. 1 netminding job as the Oilers have struggled to keep pace in the NHL's ultra-competitive Northwest Division. Making his sixth straight start, Roloson enabled Edmonton to post its third win, along with an overtime loss, in its past six games.

"If you ask any player or any goalie, the more you play, a lot easier and a lot more comfortable you feel in that situation," said Roloson of the third.

Roloson, who backstopped the Oilers to the 2006 Stanley Cup finals, dominated as the Canucks enjoyed several excellent scoring chances. The Canucks outshot the Oilers 28-23 on the night.

"When you see him playing at that level, you know it's going to be very difficult to beat him," said Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish. "I mean, they had good looks but he was sensational. He's right back where he was in 2006."

Marc Pouliot and Shawn Horcoff also scored for the Oilers.

Mason Raymond and Kyle Wellwood tallied for the Canucks (19-14-3) as they suffered their second straight loss.

Ultimately, 5-on-3 power plays proved to be the difference. The Oilers scored on a pair of two-man advantages both in the second period, while the Canucks countered on just one and didn't get another.

"The 5-on-3s are what killed us," said Vancouver defenceman Kevin Bieksa, who was in the penalty box when the winning goal was scored. "It's tough to kill those."

Souray gave Edmonton an insurmountable 3-0 lead at 16:56 of the second after after Bieksa and Alex Burrows were penalized, for tripping and slashing, respectively, 44 seconds apart.

Raymond reduced Vancouver's deficit to 3-1 in the final minute of the second and Wellwood closed the gap to 3-2 on Vancouver's 5-on-3 chance early in the third. Wellwood's tally came after Souray took Edmonton's second infraction a delay-of-game call for putting the puck over the glass in the Oilers' end.

But Roloson's fine play from there on helped his mate stand out for his goal rather than his penalty.

"We were generating chances and he was making big saves for them and we weren't able to finish them," said Bieksa. "It's frustrating, but he had a good game."

NOTES-The Canucks recorded their 231st consecutive sellout crowd of 18,630 despite plenty of no-shows because of a snowstorm . . . Edmonton played without captain Ethan Moreau, who suffered a wrist injury while blocking a shot Monday against Phoenix . . . Canuck coach Alain Vigneault said centre Ryan Johnson, recuperating from hand and foot injuries, should return in a week to 10 days . . . Canuck fans will have to wait a little longer for Mats Sundin to make his debut. He is expected to join the club Dec. 30, when he will be available for interviews in Vancouver for the first time since signing a one-year pro-rated contract that will pay him $5.625 million US. Numerous reports had indicated Sundin would likely arrive in Vancouver on Saturday.

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Souray's marker proves to be the difference as Oilers edge Canucks 3-2