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Canucks 4, Oilers 2

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EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) -Mats Sundin was a little rusty in his Vancouver Canucks debut. It didn't matter.

Steve Bernier scored twice in 12 seconds and added an assist, leading Vancouver to a 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night.

"Physically, I felt better than I was hoping. It's good to get that first game out of the way," said Sundin, who signed with the Canucks on Dec. 18 and played in his first game in nine months.

His final stat line: 15 minutes of ice time over 24 shifts, no goals, no assists, no shots on net, one hit and 9-for-18 on faceoffs.

He admitted his hands failed him at times.

"It's timing, where you come in and shoot, you jam yourself a little bit. And when you're trying to make a pass (it goes) over a stick," the 37-year old Swedish center said. "It felt exactly like where you are at the start of a season, where you're trying to get it back, but the only way to get it back is to play games."

The line of Bernier, Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler combined for three goals and eight points.

"It's a great boost for your confidence," Bernier said. "(But) what's important is the team played well tonight. We didn't give up a lot of scoring chances and we finished with the two points. Now we have to build on that."

Oilers defenseman Sheldon Souray said the two goals were like daggers.

"It was tough to have a couple little breakdowns get you bang, bang like that," he said. "Before that, I thought it was a well-played 1-1 game. All of a sudden it is 3-1. That definitely changed the momentum."

Burrows and Pavol Demitra also scored for Vancouver, and Jason LaBarbera stopped 23 shots.

Robert Nilsson and Erik Cole had the Oilers' goals.

Sundin, as per the plan worked out with Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault, saw limited action. The former captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs skated primarily between wingers Kyle Wellwood and Mason Raymond, and was booed every time he touched the puck. He was twice put on the power play with first-line wingers Daniel and Henrik Sedin.

He said he heard the boos before the game, but not during it.

When asked if he had any idea why he was booed, he replied: "No, and I'm not going to worry about it either."

Sundin, the Maple Leafs' career scoring leader, left Toronto last spring under touchy circumstances after he refused a request by the team at the trade deadline to waive the no-trade clause in his contract.

He will make his home debut Friday when the Canucks host St. Louis, and play his first game against his old teammates when Vancouver visits Toronto on Feb. 21.

Burrows opened the scoring with 5:53 left in the second, streaking into the slot to one-time Bernier's pass from behind the net past Oilers goalie Dwayne Roloson.

Edmonton responded 1 1/2 minutes later on the power play as Nilsson outmuscled his defender in a goalmouth scramble to knock home a loose puck.

Bernier took Kesler's pass in the high slot and fired it past Roloson to make it 2-1 with 2:40 to go in the period. Just 12 seconds later, Burrows grabbed the puck in the corner and fed Bernier at the side of the net for his ninth goal of the season.

The Oilers made it close with 11 minutes left in the game. Cole, standing at the side of the net, redirected Steve Staios' blue-line slap shot low past LaBarbera.

But with Roloson pulled for an extra attacker, Demitra scored with 36 seconds left to seal the victory.

Notes: Sundin spent 13 seasons with the Maple Leafs after being acquired from the Quebec Nordiques and has 555 goals and 1,321 career points in the regular season. ... LaBarbera improved to 2-0 with a 1.92 goals-against average in four games since being acquired from Los Angeles on Dec. 30. ... Roloson lost for just the second time in his last seven games.

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