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Canucks outlast Oilers 3-2 in shootout

by Kevin Woodley
VANCOUVER – The Canucks went into the All-Star break on a winning note, but the Oilers seemed to generate almost as much momentum in a losing cause.

Rookie Cody Hodgson scored the winner in the fifth round of the shootout, snapping the puck between Devan Dubnyk's legs as Vancouver salvaged a 3-2 win over Edmonton despite blowing a late lead at Rogers Arena on Tuesday night.

Both teams ended the night talking about positives.

For a Canucks team atop the Northwest Division and preparing for another season they hope goes deep into the playoffs, those plusses included staying patient even after Taylor Hall tied it with 4:11 left in regulation and finding a way to win another tight game.

"To win those close games is key for us," defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "We weren't getting frustrated, even when they tied the game. We still feel like we're in control and we're confident, and that's the sign of a good team, to be able to stay even keeled."

For a young Oilers team that's second-last in the NHL standings, it was about not giving up on the second half of back-to-backs and finding a way to battle back against a good opponent. That they did so led by youngsters Hall, who also set up Shawn Horcoff's goal, and Dubnyk, who was great in his first consecutive-night starts in the NHL, was another positive.

"We did a lot of battling, a lot of good things we can take into the All Star break and hopefully continue that after," said Hall, who deflected Corey Potter' power-play point shot through the legs of Roberto Luongo for his 16th goal of the season, but was stopped with the game in his stick in the fourth shootout round.

"If we're going to turn it around, we have to start at some point and we didn't want to go into the break with a negative feeling or frustrating feeling," added Dubnyk, who finished with 33 saves, including eight in overtime, after stopping 44 shots in a 2-1 shootout win over San Jose the night before. "We've got to rid ourselves of that frustration and to almost get two wins against two of the better teams in the League is a good way to go into it."

Not that coach Tom Renney wanted the Oilers feeling too good after a loss.

"We came up short but maybe we're getting a little closer to being a good hockey club again," said Renney, who liked his team's improving battle level for a second straight night. "It's not like we've had numerous amounts of games we haven't shown up to but there's been enough it's disconcerting. We just can't fall into the trap of feeling sorry for ourselves because we lost another close one, we just keep building on this and go after teams."

The list of Canucks' positives also included a rare win in the shootout for Luongo, who made 30 saves through overtime and stopped four of five in the tiebreaker, surviving a cramped-up quadriceps after sprawling to deny Jordan Eberle in the first round.

"Those guys have some good shooters and some guys that are patient with the puck, so I was able to wait as long as I could and made a couple saves," said Luongo, who was beaten by Ales Hemsky in the third round to tie it, but stopped Horcoff in the fifth after Hodgson scored to secure the win -- just his second in six shoutouts this season.

"They came in here and had a gutsy performance," he added. "We wanted to go out on a winning note, to enjoy the days (off) a bit more heading into the break."

For a while it looked like they'd get to that break sooner. Hodgson, who also scored the winning goal against San Jose on Saturday, certainly seemed eager for it, slipping out to catch his flight to the All-Star Game in Ottawa before talking to the media.  

David Booth put the Canucks ahead five minutes into the third period with his third goal in four games since returning from a knee sprain. But the Oilers tied it on their only power play of the night. With defenseman Dan Hamhuis off for interference, Hall set up in the slot and tipped Corey Potter's point shot through Luongo's pads.

Daniel Sedin also opened the scoring in regulation as the Canucks recovered from two losses to start their current six-game homestand with a second straight win, finishing things off in the shootout after hitting the post four times in regulation.

"We had the opportunity on a few occasions to put the game out of reach," coach Alain Vigneault said. "You hit posts, you hit crossbars, the other team stays in, they get one, they get a little bit of momentum. You've got to be able to find ways to win in games like this and I thought our group did a good job."

Horcoff scored his first goal in 13 games, and Dubnyk made several big stops for the second straight night.

"He made some unreal saves and got us that point," said defenseman Ryan Whitney, who returned after missing 13 games with problems in a surgically repaired ankle.
"Wish we could have got another one for him. He must have made 75 saves the last two nights."

It was actually 77, but Dubnyk shared the Oilers' top billing with Hall.

"He was flying around," Whitney said of the first player taken in the 2010 NHL Draft. "He's kind of the human scoring chance."

Even Renney was impressed, even if he said Hall tried to do too much on his own.

"But there are times you are OK with that because he's such a dynamic, passionate player that he makes things happen," Renney said. "He just wants so badly to win hockey games and put the team on his shoulders. How could a coach have a problem with that?"

The Canucks countered with a strong game from the top line of Daniel and Henrik Sedin, who dominated for prolonged periods before and after Daniel opened the scoring midway through the first period, and Booth, who has sparked the second line since coming back.

"We had enough chances to win this game," said Daniel Sedin. "Lots of zone time, no goals. We had a lot of puck possession and we have to be able to get shots through and get those rebounds. We did a few times and that's where we got our chances."

When they did, they hit the post, including defenseman Sami Salo, who was back in the after missing six games with a concussion, on a power play 2-on-1 early in the second. That allowed Edmonton to tie it after a great move by Hall in tight, waiting patiently before feeding Horcoff for a backdoor tap in -- his second goal in 27 games.

"Get a two-goal lead and the game's probably over," Daniel Sedin said. "It's a dangerous team when you give them a chance to hang in games."
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