VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) _ The Vancouver Canucks continued to prove
they can win without star forward Todd Bertuzzi.
Mike Keane scored two goals to help Vancouver win the Northwest Division
with a 5-2 victory over Edmonton on Saturday night, eliminating the Oilers from
After winning just one of the first seven games following Bertuzzi's
season-ending suspension for a blindside punch on Colorado's Steve Moore, the
Canucks rallied to win their final six and clinch their first division title
``There were a lot of doubts creeping into people's minds here but the guys
in the room believed we could do it,'' said Brendan Morrison after recording a
goal and an assist. ``It was just a matter of going out and proving it. It took
us a little while to get over the whole issue and deal with the adversity of
what happened with Bert, but I think it's made us a stronger group.''
Markus Naslund and Mattias Ohlund also scored for the Canucks, who locked up
the third seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
The loss by the Oilers, who got goals from Brad Isbister and Igor Ulanov,
gave Nashville its first playoff berth. Edmonton missed the playoffs despite
losing in regulation for just the second time in their final 19 games.
``All that work that we've done for the last two months has sort of gone
down the drain,'' Oilers forward Ryan Smyth said. ``We're really happy with the
drive, but this is going to hurt for a while.''
Edmonton remained tied with Nashville at 89 points, but the Predators got in
on a tiebreaker despite losing 4-1 to St. Louis.
``It's tough to swallow,'' Smyth added.
Dan Cloutier, starting his second straight game after beating San Jose 4-1
Friday night, made 24 saves as Vancouver finished the season with 101 points.
Colorado is two points back with one game left, but Vancouver has the
tiebreaker, ending the Avalanche's record run of nine-straight division
The Canucks lost the Northwest title to Colorado on the final day of last
season after blowing a late-season lead.
``It's pretty special just the way things turned out last year and the way
we battled back after some real strange adversity this year,'' Trevor Linden
said. ``We were counted out two weeks ago and as a team we knew we had to run
the table and win six straight and we were able to do it.''
Keane and Isbister exchanged goals four minutes apart in the first period
before Naslund put the Canucks ahead for good on a disputed goal with 2:12 left
in the period.
The goal light went on after Naslund's one-timer from the side of the
crease, but the referee didn't signal a goal until Naslund poked it over the
line a few seconds later _ sparking a melee in front of the net. With the
Oilers still arguing, a video review showed the puck had trickled across the
line behind Conklin before Naslund's final nudge, giving the Canucks' captain
his 35th goal of the season and third in the last four games.
Keane added his second goal on a two-on-one break with Trevor Linden 13:42
into the second, keeping the puck and snapping a perfect wrist shot from the
right faceoff circle over Conklin's outstretched glove.
``We were stressing shots and it just went in,'' Keane said after matching
his single-game career high.
Morrison made it 4-1 with 31 seconds left in the second period, but Ulanov
closed the gap again with a power-play goal at 4:14 of the third.
The Oilers got another late power play after successfully calling for an
illegal stick measurement on Martin Rucinsky. But it ended when Raffi Torres
got a five-minute major for boarding Keane.
Ohlund rounded out the scoring with 2:16 left on the ensuing power play.
``I think we proved we can play at a real high level and we can compete,''
Keane said. ``If you're third in the Western Conference it shows you can