EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) -Edmonton's injuries and its opponent made this one even sweeter for Oilers coach Craig MacTavish.
Jason Smith's first goal of the season snapped a second-period tie and lifted the Oilers to a 3-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday night in a rematch of last season's Stanley Cup finals.
Brad Winchester and Fernando Pisani also scored for the Oilers, the defending Western Conference champions who lost Game 7 in Raleigh, N.C., this spring.
"We didn't give them much through the neutral zone and we stood up and moved the puck really well," MacTavish said. "We need to play this way with or without some of the injuries we've had. That's the best we've executed positionally in a long time."
Craig Adams scored for the Hurricanes, who earned their first NHL title against the Oilers. Carolina has just one goal in its last two games.
"We have to keep fighting through it," Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. "There is no real excuse for it. I thought our power play did a better job tonight but we just couldn't get it into the back of the net."
Edmonton (15-10-2) moved into sole possession of first place in the Northwest Division, two points ahead of the idle Minnesota Wild.
Carolina dropped both games on a trip to Alberta.
Both teams came out fast but the game remained scoreless through a spirited first period as both starting goalies, Jussi Markkanen for the Oilers and Cam Ward for Carolina, were forced to make saves on scrambles.
The Oilers took a 1-0 lead early in the second when Winchester fought for the puck in the corner and then swung out with it in front. He picked the corner with a wrist shot over Ward's left shoulder at 2:30.
Carolina tied it up with 8 minutes remaining in the second as Adams tipped Eric Belanger's shot through Markkanen's legs.
But the Oilers regained the advantage with one minute left in the second when captain Jason Smith scored his first of the season on a shot from the point that found its way past Ward.
"We played simple and we played smart," Oilers center Jarret Stoll.
Edmonton made it 3-1 just 1:44 into the third when Pisani picked up a rebound and scored his fifth of the season.
"It was a big game for us," Ward said. "We weren't very satisfied with our outing (a 3-0 loss) last night in Calgary. Since we only play Edmonton once a year, and now have this history between us, it is a big game. We'll learn from it and hopefully come back stronger against Vancouver."
The defeat was especially costly for the Hurricanes, who lost captain Rod Brind'Amour to an undisclosed lower body injury. Brind'Amour left the game and didn't return.
Notes: This was the only meeting of the season between the teams and their first regular-season matchup in three years. ... Referee Mick McGeough worked his first game in Edmonton since Nov. 3 when he waved off an Edmonton goal with 4 seconds left due to a glove pass that replays showed didn't occur. The Oilers lost the game, and McGeough admitted he made a mistake in disallowing the potential tying goal. He was greeted with boos when he was announced as an official before the game.
|Brad Winchester (4) ASST: Marty Reasoner (8), Matt Greene (4)|
1 - 0 EDM
|Craig Adams (4) ASST: Eric Belanger (5), Glen Wesley (4)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Jason Smith (1) ASST: Raffi Torres (9)|
2 - 1 EDM
|Fernando Pisani (5) ASST: Jarret Stoll (12), Steve Staios (10)|
3 - 1 EDM
|Power Play %||18.8%||17.7%|
|% on Road||16.1%||18.9%|
|% at Home||21.6%||16.5%|
|Rod Brind'Amour Elbowing against Joffrey Lupul|
|Brad Winchester Cross checking against Erik Cole|
|Fernando Pisani Hooking against Eric Staal|
|Scott Walker Holding the stick against Marty Reasoner|
|Bret Hedican Slashing against Marty Reasoner|
|Glen Wesley Tripping against Fernando Pisani|
|Justin Williams Tripping against Joffrey Lupul|
|Shawn Horcoff Roughing against Justin Williams|
|Jarret Stoll Hi-sticking against Bret Hedican|