VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- The holiday break was just what the
Edmonton Oilers needed.
Mired in a monthlong slump and stuck near the bottom of the Western
Conference, the Oilers emerged from four days off and played one of their best
games of the season Saturday night, scoring five straight goals to beat the
Vancouver Canucks 6-2.
"We had a couple of days to think about it," said Brad Isbister, who broke
a 2-2 tie in the second period. "Things haven't been going that well and we've
got to turn this thing around. Tonight was a big win for us so we've just got
to continue to build from here."
The offensively challenged Oilers added three third-period goals to hand the
Northwest Division-leading Canucks their worst loss of the season.
"We had a great Christmas break and came back and we were focused," said
Ryan Smyth, who had a goal and an assist in the third period.
Radek Dvorak and Ales Hemsky counted the other goals in the third, and Mike
York and Jarret Stoll also scored for the Oilers, who beat the Canucks for the
first time in more than 20 months.
"It was nice for us to come from a break and get a win, especially against
Vancouver," Tommy Salo said after making 32 saves for his first win in more
than seven weeks. "It's always a tough game when we play them -- today was the
same thing. Finally we get a win and I think that was good for us."
The victory was just the third in 16 games for the Oilers, who also snapped
a four-game winless slide. Edmonton is six points back of eighth-place
"There's lot of hockey, that's what we talked about when we came back after
Christmas, just to be focused and start gaining some points and get back in the
hunt," Smyth said.
Brad May and Daniel Sedin both ended long goal droughts for the Canucks, who
were playing for the second straight night after winning 2-0 in Calgary on
"It was pretty clear and simple, they came in and outworked us," Canucks
captain Markus Naslund said. "Overall this is a proud team and we usually
battle even if we have a tough night, we usually never give up. Tonight was a
little different, I thought. We usually don t get blown out like this."
May opened the scoring 2:06 into the first period on a redirection for his
first goal since coming to Vancouver in a trade late last season, and his first
in 40 games overall.
York tied it with a short-handed goal 7:43 into the second after Todd
Bertuzzi first passed his way out of a three-on-one break in the Edmonton end,
then lost York and the puck behind his own net. York beat Alex Auld on the far
side with a wraparound along the ice.
It was the fourth short-handed goal surrendered by the Canucks in the last
Sedin banged in a rebound at 10:40 for his first goal in 11 games to restore
the Vancouver lead. Naslund appeared to extend the lead on a partial breakaway
a minute later, but the play was stopped after a two-line pass, and Stoll tied
it at 12:40 with his first goal in 15 games.
"Their short-handed goal gave them some life," Canucks coach Marc Crawford
said. "We took it back from them when Daniel scored and we were sloppy after
Isbister gave the Oilers their first lead on a spin move in the slot after
Mattias Ohlund and Naslund both failed to clear the puck from the right faceoff
Dvorak added an insurance goal on a breakaway 2:32 into the third period,
Smyth scored on the power play at 11:26, then set up Hemsky in close just over
three minutes later.
"Hopefully we'll look back at this as the game that turned a forgettable
stretch around," Edmonton head coach Craig MacTavish said.
Auld finished with 20 saves for his first loss in three starts for Vancouver
since being recalled from Manitoba of the American Hockey League on Dec. 10.