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Korpikoski lifts Oilers past Canucks in OT

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER -- Edmonton Oilers forward Lauri Korpikoski is a big fan of the NHL's new 3-on-3 overtime format, at times.

"It's fun when you have the puck, but not so much when you don't," he said.

Fortunately for the Oilers, Korpikoski had the puck to end the game Sunday, scoring on a breakaway 1:46 into overtime to give Edmonton a 2-1 win against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena.

Defenseman Andrej Sekera stripped the puck from Canucks captain Henrik Sedin in the Oilers zone to start a 2-on-1 rush, then sent Korpikoski in alone for a shot that trickled through the legs of Vancouver goalie Ryan Miller and across the goal line.

"They had some chances before in that shift," Korpikoski said. "Andrej made a nice play winning that wall battle and set me up for a breakaway. It kind of trickled through his five-hole."

Edmonton goalie Anders Nilsson made 33 saves, and rookie center Connor McDavid set up Nail Yakupov for an early power-play goal. It was the second win in as many nights for the Oilers (2-4-0) after losing their first four games of the season, and their first win against the Canucks since 2013-14 after losing all five games in the series last season.

"It feels great," said McDavid, who had two goals and an assist in a 5-2 win against the Calgary Flames on Saturday. "These are big points, divisional game. These are the ones that add up later on in the season."

For all the early attention on McDavid, the No. 1 pick of the 2015 NHL Draft, coach Todd McLellan said it was fitting Korpikoski, who was acquired in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes four days after McDavid was selected, scored the winner.

"Trust," McLellan said when asked what Korpikoski brings. "When you are behind the bench and you look down, there are guys you trust a little bit more than others for different reasons. Lauri for me is bringing trust. You can play him in all situations. He's not perfect, but he tries to play the right way all the time, and for him to get rewarded tonight was a nice thing."

McLellan hopes two straight wins will also build some trust in the system he is trying to teach in his first season as coach of a young Oilers team loaded with talent.

"It allows us to head into a homestand feeling good about ourselves," he said. "We've still got a lot of work to do, but we have guys believing now in each other and perhaps in the system."

Canucks defenseman Matt Bartkowski scored his first NHL regular-season goal in his 137th game.

Vancouver (3-1-2), which has lost two straight, had a great chance to go ahead 2:30 into the third period, but Daniel Sedin chipped the puck over a wide-open net from inside the crease after Nilsson stopped Henrik Sedin on a breakaway.

"When you watch the 10 mishaps or the top-10 plays, you see those," McLellan said. "It's a break we needed, and we took advantage of it."

Miller made 22 saves but lost for the first time in 13 career starts against the Oilers.

"We probably deserved more," Miller said. "Their guy (Nilsson) played pretty good. We had some good looks. We just couldn't find the back of the net. … It's not good enough tonight."

Miller thought the Canucks "played a better brand of hockey here at home," but after losing 4-3 to the St. Louis Blues on Friday, it was the second straight game the Canucks fell behind early against a team playing on back-to-back nights.

With Derek Dorsett in the penalty box for tripping, McDavid chipped a pass off the boards to himself to gain the blue line, getting behind Canucks defenseman Luca Sbisa in the process. McDavid cut down near the goal line before sending a pass through the slot to the other side to Yakupov, who buried a one-timer over the glove of a sliding Miller for a 1-0 lead at 3:23 of the first period.

"He's really fast," Yakupov said of McDavid. "He's always trying to see someone to be open. He's always going to move the puck. With this guy, you just have to be ready all the time."

Despite the early goal, McLellan thought it was a tough game for his talented young forwards.

"Connor and [Yakupov] and some of our smaller players had to carry around Canucks all night," McLellan said. "They were on top of them, took their time and ice away, and that's a tough game to play in three (games) in four (nights), but [McDavid] was dangerous again. The League is aware of him, so they are making sure they check him with the proper people."

Bartkowski, who did score a goal in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Boston Bruins, tied it with 4:17 left in the first period on a point shot that deflected off Oilers defenseman Mark Fayne in the high slot and dipped under the glove of Nilsson as Bo Horvat crashed the crease.

Horvat made heavy contact with Nilsson, but the puck appeared to be past the Edmonton goalie already, and after some deliberation, McLellan decided to not ask for a review.

"We thought the puck was in before there was any contact," McLellan said.

Vancouver controlled play for long stretches after falling behind but couldn't beat Nilsson. The 6-foot-5 Swedish goalie made a good blocker save on Alexander Edler in the slot on a 3-on-2 rush 26 seconds into the game, gloved a backhand shot from Adam Cracknell alone in the slot late in the period, and stopped Sven Baertschi on a breakaway early in the second period.

After getting the break on Daniel Sedin's close-range miss, Nilsson made a headfirst diving save on Radim Vrbata on a rebound to keep it tied with 6:41 left.

"I saw the puck pretty good and felt comfortable," said Nilsson, who is in his first season in Edmonton after spending 2014-15 in Russia. "It's a huge confidence boost for the team. We played decent the first four games but couldn't get the wins, and the last two games we played solid."

The Oilers will play their next three games and seven of eight at Rexall Place. The Canucks will play the third of their five-game homestand Thursday against the Washington Capitals.

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