EDMONTON (CP) - The Edmonton Oilers were in rough shape, but the Vancouver Canucks were careful not to take their injury riddled opponents too lightly.
The Canucks survived a bit of a scare as Daniel Sedin had a goal and an assist in a 2-1 Vancouver victory, extending the Oilers' winless streak to 11 games. Trevor Linden also scored for Vancouver while Raffi Torres had the lone goal for Edmonton. The Canucks (44-23-6) have now won three in a row and eight of their last 10 to move three points ahead of idle Minnesota for top spot in the Northwest Division.
Daniel Sedin said it was a harder fought victory than some would expect considering the Oilers' woes of late.
"We knew they were going to be working hard and we had our hands full getting the two points," he said. "I don't think you could say they have been outplayed the last 10 games. It was a tough game and we deserved the two points. We had a game in hand on Minnesota so it was key to get the win tonight." Vancouver starter Roberto Luongo had 36 saves to capture his 42nd win of the season, tying him for the league lead in that category with New Jersey's Martin Brodeur. But the Canucks workhorse says his only thoughts at the moment are team related.
"It's just a matter of winning hockey games for me and trying to solidify a good spot for the playoffs," he said. "The team is playing well and the playoffs can't come soon enough right now."
Edmonton (30-36-7) has now also gone 10 games without a victory since the deadline deal of forward Ryan Smyth to the New York Islanders and is just three losses short of their franchise record 14 game winless streak from the 93-94 season.
The Oilers have picked up their play of late but still aren't coming away with anything to show for it.
"We played the best game tonight that we have played in a long time," said Horcoff. "But to come away with the same result again leaves you dejected. There are nine games left and we have to keep a positive outlook. I guess I'd rather see us lose games trying to make plays and things happen than being tentative out there. Tonight was a step in the right direction."
Oiler forward Toby Petersen agrees it is frustrating to play well and still be mired in such a long winless streak.
"It's encouraging but still doesn't get the win for us," he said. "To say we're not frustrated would be a lie. We play to win and we haven't been able to do that. It's been a tough road here."
The Oilers came out looking determined to finally end their string of futility. They staked a 1-0 lead just over six minutes in when Torres redirected a Shawn Horcoff point shot over Luongo.
Vancouver had a number of glorious chances to tie the game up with a pair of late power plays, but Oilers netminder Dwayne Roloson came up big to keep the Canucks off the board.
But yet another power play early in the second allowed the Canucks to draw even as Daniel Sedin made a perfect pass through the crease to Linden, who had an easy tap in to knot the game 1-1.
The Canucks then took the lead five minutes later as Roloson allowed a big rebound on a kick save from a Mattias Ohlund shot and Henrik Sedin found brother Daniel Sedin waiting at the side of the net to chip in his 32nd of the year for a 2-1 Vancouver advantage.
It was Edmonton's turn to apply the late pressure in the second period with a number of quality chances but Luongo shut the door, making 31 saves through 40 minutes.
The Canucks did a good job keeping the Oilers down from there and were able to hold on through a scoreless third.
Both teams return to the ice on Wednesday as the Oilers play the fourth game of a six game homestand against Colorado and the Canucks return home to face Nashville.
NOTES: The Oilers were once again missing 10 players from their lineup on Monday night. With five defencemen out Edmonton was forced to look to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for help, calling up 20-year-old blue-liner Sebastien Bisaillon on an emergency basis from the Val-d'Or Foreurs for the game. Kyle Brodziak, another recent emergency call up, was returned to Wilkes-Barre of the AHL before the game as Joffrey Lupul drew back in after a bout with the flu. . . . Edmonton's injury woes have exposed the dangers of not having a dedicated American Hockey League affiliate this season, but that won't be a problem next season as the Oilers announced they had signed a three-year affiliation agreement with the Springfield Falcons on Monday. It enables the Oilers to ice their own AHL affiliate for the first time since 2004-05. . . . . . . Heading into the match against the Oilers, a total of 15 different Canucks had scored the team's last 17 goals.