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game recap

Oilers exit Rexall Place with win against Canucks

Edmonton scores 18 seconds apart in final game at arena

by Derek Van Diest / Correspondent

EDMONTON -- Rookie forward Connor McDavid helped the Edmonton Oilers win their last NHL game at Rexall Place in the same way Wayne Gretzky helped them win their first.

McDavid had three points (one goal and two assists) in a 6-2 win against the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday in the final game at what's been their home arena since 1974.

"It was a pretty special night, we put on a good game for the last one here, everybody wanted to do that," McDavid said. "Everybody understood the message that was given down from the coaches and we came ready to play. The fans have been behind us all year long even though we haven't given the much to cheer about. Tonight they were great. That last minute was pretty special. We were all just trying to take it all in and soak it in for the last time here."

Edmonton's first NHL win at Rexall Place, originally Northlands Coliseum, was on Oct. 19, 1979. Gretzky had three points (all assists) in a 6-3 win against the Quebec Nordiques.

Video: VAN@EDM: Maroon, Hall score 18 seconds apart in 3rd

Patrick Maroon had two goals Wednesday, Taylor Hall had a goal and two assists, and Nail Yakupov and Leon Draisaitl scored for Edmonton (31-43-7), which ended a three-game losing streak. Jordan Eberle had two assists, and goaltender Cam Talbot made 25 saves. 

"I think this game meant a lot for the guys," Maroon said. "These fans are probably the best fans in the NHL and all they want is playoffs, just to get in the playoffs, and we tried to play like a playoff team tonight. They're the best and we needed to put on a show for those fans. They put the passion and pride into it and we should too for them. We should come out here and play hard every night. Hopefully next year, we can have a good team and play with that character and start churning the right way instead of churning the opposite way."

The Oilers, a former World Hockey Association team, will move into their new arena, Rogers Place, for the 2016-17 NHL season. A closing ceremony for Rexall Place, with more than 150 Oilers alumni, was held following the game.

Draisaitl scored the last goal at Rexall Place on the power play with 1:57 left in the third period, taking a pass from Hall in front and beating goalie Jacob Markstrom.

Video: VAN@EDM: McDavid puts puck past Markstrom for a PPG

"Obviously it was pretty special, with the history in this building," Draisaitl said after shaking hands with Gretzky in the locker room. "I don't know if there's any words for it. The last couple of years it hasn't gone the way we wanted it to go, but the fans still come, they still support us, they're still loud. Hopefully in the future we can give them more."

Edmonton took a 5-1 lead in the third period with goals 18 seconds apart by Maroon and Hall. Maroon scored at 9:08, tipping a pass from Eberle through Markstrom from the side of the net. Hall scored at 9:26, cutting in off the wing and sliding the puck under Markstrom.

Matt Bartkowski and Bo Horvat scored for Vancouver (30-37-13). Markstrom made 32 saves.

"I just believe if you accept being average, you're going to be average," Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said. "Tonight we accepted being average. We didn't fight through enough. I thought we came with a good push to start the third, but they got a bit of a break on a goal that made it 4-1, that kind of took us out. We didn't have a great game. I thought we had a good start. They got one, we had the chance to answer back on the power play, but we didn't have a good power play (0-for-4)."

Video: VAN@EDM: Maroon tips the puck short side on Markstrom

Yakupov scored 8:27 into the second period to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead. He collected the puck along the right boards poked to him by Mark Fayne and shot it over Markstrom's shoulder.

Maroon gave the Oilers a 2-0 lead at 13:16, intercepting a pass from Canucks forward Emerson Etem in the slot and beating Markstrom high.

McDavid put the Oilers up 3-0 at 17:26, poking a rebound past Markstrom from the top of the crease. McDavid started the play, setting up Eberle in front. Eberle fanned on his shot, but McDavid was first to the puck in front.

"We got better as the night went on," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. "We didn't have a lot of shots, but we gave up a lot of potential shooting attempts, we tried to get a little cute out there, but then we started to play and started getting pucks to their goaltender and then we got some power plays and that was the difference."

Video: VAN@EDM: Yakupov beats Markstrom from the circle

Bartkowski scored at 5:21 of the third period to make it 3-1. He took a long shot through traffic that floated past Talbot. Horvat scored at 12:09 to make it 5-2. He was able to get around Oilers defenseman Jordan Oesterle at the right faceoff circle, cut to the net and shot the puck past Talbot.

"Tonight, didn't have enough emotion, enough passion," Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said. "We didn't get enough shots. We had chances to shoot the puck, but we held onto it and tried to make plays instead."

He and Daniel Sedin were scoreless at Rexall Place for one of the few times in their NHL career.

"The building has always been great, I've always enjoyed coming in here," Henrik Sedin said. "The ice has always been really good and working well towards our game. The crowd is always good, it's always loud. I remember our first five, six, seven years, the rivalry was there and we had some good teams and tough games coming in here. It was always fun to come here."

Video: VAN@EDM: Oilers history shown during final ceremony

The Oilers played most of the game without defenseman Darnell Nurse, who left at 13:30 of the first period after being hit in the throat with the puck. Nurse reached out to block a shot from Canucks defenseman Andrey Pedan and the puck rode up his stick.

The Oilers end their season at the Canucks on Saturday. The Canucks are at the Calgary Flames on Thursday.

"It was great, that's the response we needed, I thought we played well on both sides of the puck," Eberle said. "I thought our special teams were exceptional, our power play and penalty kill were great. It was a good sign-off."

Video: Oilers rout Canucks in final game at Rexall Place

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