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Canucks hold off Oilers on Linden's big night

by John Kreiser / NHL.com
The Vancouver Canucks made sure the Edmonton Oilers wouldn't be able to spoil Trevor Linden's big night.

With GM Place awash in emotion after Linden's No. 16 was retired in a pregame ceremony, the Canucks sent the sellout crowd home happy Wednesday by beating the Oilers 4-2. Daniel Sedin scored twice and Curtis Sanford made 25 saves for his fifth win in eight decisions since Roberto Luongo went down with a groin injury last month.

"It was a special night for him and for us, too," Sedin said. "'Trevor meant a lot to this team and to my brother and myself. It was great to get the two points out of it. We sat for 45 minutes or so, but guys were still pumped up. It was an emotional night, but the guys were prepared to play."

The Canucks honored Linden, who spent 16 years with the franchise, and coach Alain Vigneault said he thought his players got a little spark from the festivities.

"The sense I got, looking at the players, was that they were touched by the ceremony," he said. "It was a phenomenal ceremony and a great game for us."

Edmonton lost for the second night in a row, though the Oilers played far better than they did in Tuesday's embarrassing 9-2 home loss to Chicago.

''We had some good chances around the net but we needed more early on," defenseman Steve Staios said. "We showed a little bit of bounce back from last night, which was a real tough night for us."

Sedin opened the scoring 74 seconds into the middle period during a 5-on-3 power play by deflecting Alexander Edler's point shot into goaltender Dwayne Roloson's pads. Staios hammered Sedin from behind, knocking him into Roloson and nudging the puck over the goal line.

"They crashed the net hard," Roloson said. "That's part of the game right now."

Vancouver made it a two-goal lead at 3:51 when Ryan Kesler caught Roloson scrambling and jammed a rebound under the sprawling goalie for his seventh of the season. Sedin for his team-leading 14th at 16:10; he was almost parallel to the net, but found room over Roloson's left arm.

The Oilers took advantage of injuries to Vancouver defensemen Sami Salo and Shane O'Brien that left the Canucks with just four defensemen in the third period.

Dustin Penner's shot hit defenseman Kevin Bieksa's stick and flew past a startled Sanford at 2:22 to break the shutout. Edmonton made it a 3-2 game with 1:29 left when Sam Gagner scored on the power play with Roloson on the bench for a sixth attacker. But Jannik Hansen hit the empty net to send a sigh of relief through the sellout crowd.

"It wasn't the third period that we wanted," Kesler said. "We knew they'd come out with a strong effort in the third period. We were down to four (defensemen), and they were gassed. But we found a way to win."

Roloson felt the late comeback gave the Oilers something to build on.

"We played a great third period," he said. "We didn't quit. We did a great job getting back into the game. Unfortunately, we couldn't get the equalizer."

Oilers coach Craig MacTavish was happier with his young players than with some of his veterans — which could result in a re-allocation of some ice time.

"It was a special night for him and for us, too.  Trevor meant a lot to this team and to my brother and myself. It was great to get the two points out of it. We sat for 45 minutes or so, but guys were still pumped up. It was an emotional night, but the guys were prepared to play." -- Daniel Sedin
"I think when you talk about guys who elevated their level of physical play, we got that more out of our young guys than we did out of our veterans," he said. "There were a few that did it and elevated it, but not enough. If your veterans don't do it, you're sitting here explaining why you lost the game.

"It's a situation where some of that ice time has to go to the young guys that are going to exert themselves and play the game hard."

Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.


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