Last year the Oilers clipped the Canucks 4-1.
This year 4-1 would have been a treat.
A six-goal second period outburst from Edmonton had Vancouver down 7-1 after 40 minutes Sunday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton, B.C., and there was little the Canucks could do to right the ship in the third.
A win would have been nice, but that’s not why the prospects are here, it’s about the experience and that was certainly a difficult one to endure for Vancouver.
“It’s a good lesson for everybody, you have to play the game the right way and we obviously didn’t do that in the second period,” said coach Craig MacTavish, whose team was being outshot 25-12 at one point in the middle frame.
“It was breakdowns after breakdowns and then you start becoming individualistic and you take guys on one-on-one and turn pucks over in the second period and defence can’t get off and you get victimized on the change.”
Darren Archibald scored the first Vancouver goal 9:09 into the first and he assisted on the last Canucks strike with 2:11 remaining in the game; Archibald skated with Alex Friesen and Nicklas Jensen on what was Vancouver’s most impressive line.
David Honzik started the game in net but Karel St. Laurent finished it after Honzik allowed six goals, including two 19-seconds apart in the second, in 34:48 of ice time. St. Laurent stopped 13 of 14 shots in 25:12 of play.
Nicklas Jensen didn’t look like the nervous 18-year-old he said he felt like inside.
Jensen was steady in his first game with the Canucks, despite the massive difference in tempo from what he was accustomed to playing in Denmark. The 2011 first round pick was also used to playing in larger rinks so he had his head on a swivel on the night.
“You have to think quicker,” said Jensen, who did just that in taking on three Oilers and displaying some deft stickwork during a scoring chance in the first period that led to Vancouver’s first goal.
Jensen was knocked off the puck but he stayed with it and hit Archibald in front as he made a move for the net.
“I saw him open, I knew he was there so I didn’t look, I just knew he was in front and he made a great call on the puck and he got it.”
Adam Polasek stopped the bleeding by causing some bleeding.
The bruising defenceman was quick to drop the gloves with Edmonton’s Colten Teubert early in the third period, and after the two squared each other up, Polasek landed a TKO punch that sent Teubert to the ice in a hurry.
That helped swing the momentum and the Oilers didn't score again after the fight.
Polasek’s bout was the most impressive of the night, but he wasn’t alone in taking on an Oiler as Sawyer Hannay traded fists with Cameron Abney in the second period.
Over the last two seasons with the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads, Hannay racked up 34 fights. He said it’s a part of his game, but he insisted he’s not a fighter – playing on a young Mooseheads team merely forced him to defend his teammates quite regularly.
“I wouldn’t consider myself a fighter, but if duty calls, I’ll fight for any one of my teammates, I really take a lot of pride in that,” said Hannay, the fists behind two Young Stars fights from a year ago.
“The way I look at it is that different players help their team in different ways and we all love to play the game, we all love to win, and sometimes my emotions come into the game and fights happen.”