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Luongo, Canucks hold off late push by Oilers

by Derek Van Diest /

EDMONTON -- Kellan Lain's first two NHL games have been eventful.

The rookie left wing scored his first goal to help the Vancouver Canucks to a 2-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place on Tuesday night.

Lain logged two seconds of ice time in his debut Saturday night before he was ejected for participating in an opening faceoff line brawl against the Calgary Flames.

"You always dream of playing in the NHL, but you also dream of scoring that first goal," Lain said. "When you get it, it's a pretty special moment."

Lain scored the Canucks' opening goal against the Oilers, and Zack Kassian connected for the other in the Vancouver win.

Jordan Eberle scored the lone goal for the Oilers.

Roberto Luongo made 28 saves to earn the win in his second start since returning from an ankle injury. He made 11 of those saves in the third period, when the Oilers came close to tying the game on several quality chances.

"I don't know if you can picture a more memorable first two games in the NHL than that," Luongo said of Lain. "But it was a huge goal for us to set the tone for us in the first period."

Lain opened the scoring 5:14 into the opening period, getting to a rebound in front of the net and enough of the puck to push it past goaltender Ben Scrivens.

Scrivens, making his home debut with the Oilers, finished with 25 saves. Edmonton acquired the 27-year-old from the Los Angeles Kings last week in exchange for a third-round draft pick.

"I just drove to the net and the puck just popped out to me," Lain said. "Our line (Lain skated with Dale Weise and Tom Sestito), we are three big bodies. We just tried to work it down low and create some energy, and I thought we did a good job of that tonight.

"Our team played really well, and we also had some big penalty kills out there down the stretch. We all rallied together and got a big win."

The Canucks went into the game having won two of their previous 10. They had snapped a three-game losing streak Saturday against the Flames before facing the Oilers.

They were without captain Henrik Sedin, who was out with a rib injury. It was the first time in nearly 10 years Sedin has not been in the Canucks lineup, snapping a streak of 679 consecutive games played.

The Canucks were also without coach John Tortorella, serving the first of a 15-day suspension.

"I thought we played hard. I thought we played smart. The first two periods I thought we played real well," said Canucks assistant Mike Sullivan, who is filling in for Tortorella. "We were playing with fire there in the second, they have a lot of skill and their power play was really good. I thought once we killed that off to get out of the second period, the key for us was to make sure we didn't give them another opportunity."

Kassian increased the Canucks' lead at 7:59 of the second period, firing a wrist shot past Scrivens from the top of the faceoff circles. Ryan Kesler set up Kassian for his 10th goal of the season by digging the puck out of scrum behind the net and sending it out in front.

Luongo was the main reason the Oilers were unable to cut into the lead in the middle period. He made a handful of big saves with Edmonton on the power play, stopping Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on one power play and robbing Eberle on another.

The Canucks goalie was able to slide across and get a piece of Eberle's shot on a cross-ice setup from Nugent-Hopkins.

"It's tough to hang your head after this one," Eberle said. "But in the end we lost. We didn't find a way to win. We could have had two or three goals on the power play, but Luongo made some really good saves. I thought we played a pretty good game. We just couldn't find a way to score. I think for sure the saves he made on our power plays made the difference."

The Oilers did get on the board at 15:00 of the third period when Eberle finished off a scramble in front.

The play started with Luongo making a sliding save on Sam Gagner in front. With Luongo out of position, Taylor Hall collected the puck and set up Eberle, who was able to get his shot through a sea of bodies and past a diving Luongo for his 17th goal.

"I thought we were right there, even with them," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "I'm not sure we outplayed them, or they outplayed us, but I thought the game started to tilt our way in the third period."

The Oilers made a strong push for the tying goal, but were unable to beat Luongo for a second time.

"I think we all have to step up," Luongo said. "It's not just one person; that's what good teams do. When there's guys out of the lineup, other guys have to step up and those coming into the lineup have to play well.

"Good teams find a way to do that and tonight we played great game."

The loss extended the Oilers' winless skid to five games (0-4-1). They host the Phoenix Coyotes on Friday. The Canucks return home to play the Nashville Predators on Thursday.

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