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Perron's hat trick leads Oilers past Canucks

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER -- There haven't been many bright spots for the Edmonton Oilers during another lost season.

Jesse Joensuu provided one by snapping a personal slump and, in doing so, a team one against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Monday.

Joensuu ended a 14-game goal-scoring drought to put the Oilers ahead 2:20 into the third period, and David Perron completed his second career hat trick when he scored into an empty net with 1:09 left to lift the Oilers to a 4-2 win against the Canucks.

"It's nice to get some sunlight to the cave," Joensuu said.

Ryan Smyth won a battle in the left corner and fed a perfect pass to Joensuu, who was waiting atop the crease on the far side and slid the puck back between Roberto Luongo's legs as the Vancouver goalie slid toward him. It was Joensuu's third goal, his first since Dec. 10, and it sparked the Oilers to consecutive wins for the fourth time all season.

"Somebody said we have more six-game losing streaks than two-game winning streaks, so that says a lot," Joensuu said.

The Oilers, who are last in the Western Conference, have three five-game losing streaks and two six-game losing skids, the most recent of which they ended with a 5-1 win against the Nashville Predators on Sunday night. Perron played 16 minutes in that lopsided win, and it left him feeling energized against the Canucks less than 24 hours later.

Perron scored twice in the first period, then set a new single-season career high with his 22nd goal when he completed the hat trick with the empty-netter. Both of Perron's hat tricks have come against the Canucks, who almost picked him at the 2007 NHL Draft.

"You guys always like to bring that one up, eh?" Perron said. "My first experience coming here was the Memorial Cup (in 2007). I really loved the city, and I think it's one of my favorite ones in the League. It's always in the back of my mind after the game because you guys bring it up."

Perron preferred to talk about the early physical tone set by the Oilers, who were pushed around as they lost the first three games this season to their Pacific Division rivals.

"We have to be able to look them straight in the eyes and tell them to go away in not always the nicest way," he said. "We need to be able to play with these guys if we are going to make the playoffs in other years, and it starts right now."

Oilers second-year forward Nail Yakupov had two assists, and Ilya Bryzgalov overcame a couple of odd goals to finish with 25 saves, including a couple of great stops late in the game.

"What can you do? (You) just continue to play and don't let yourself get distracted," he said. "You never know what's coming."

The Canucks would have liked to send more pucks Bryzgalov's way, especially after the Oilers grabbed the lead early in the third period on Joensuu's goal.

Luongo, who finished with 16 saves, made an incredible save six minutes into the third period to keep it close. He spun around and reached back over his head to swat a high, arcing deflection out of the air with his stick. But the Canucks couldn't take advantage, generating two shots through the first half of the third period before a surge in the final minutes.

"We need to take responsibility for that and make sure we are playing the right way the whole 60 minutes instead of the last six minutes," said Jordan Schroeder, who scored both Canucks goals in his first game back after missing 44 following surgery to repair a broken ankle.

Schroeder got lucky bounces on both his goals. After offseason shoulder surgery was followed by a fractured foot his first preseason game and a broken ankle three games into his regular season, the skilled but undersized center was probably owed a couple of breaks.

"Some hockey gods repaid me tonight," Schroeder said.

They didn't look as fondly on some teammates.

Alexandre Burrows, who hasn't scored in 22 games this season, hit the post with five minutes left. Bryzgalov robbed Schroeder from the slot a minute later, then got some help as Ryan Jones swept the loose puck into him as it trickled towards the goal line. Bryzgalov also robbed Dan Hamhuis on another great chance with 2:43 left and made two great saves on a Chris Higgins breakaway late in the second period, getting a glove on the initial shot and kicking out the left pad to deny the rebound attempt.

"Massive," Edmonton coach Dallas Eakins said of Bryzgalov's performance. "We're slowly getting stronger, and it's good for the group."

Coming off a wild 5-4 overtime win against the Phoenix Coyotes the night before, the Canucks seemed content to play a wide-open game early, handing the Oilers a handful off odd-man rushes.

Perron had a 2-on-1 feed hop over his stick in the opening minute, and Luongo stopped Taylor Hall on a 2-on-0 eight minutes in.

Perron finally converted a little more than a minute later on a 2-on-1 with Sam Gagner after a neutral zone turnover, one-timing a cross-ice pass by Luongo's outstretched glove.

Hall had a good chance from the slot blocked on another 3-on-2 about a minute later, and Schroeder tied it at 1-1 at 12:33 after a big hit by David Booth forced a turnover behind the Edmonton net.

Schroeder's wraparound attempt went into the slot and the puck bounced off Oilers defenseman Corey Potter's skate before hitting the heel of Bryzgalov's stick, deflecting between the goalie's legs, and going into the net.

Perron restored the Oilers' lead after Zach Kassian coughed up the puck just inside the blue line. Yakupov got around the defense and cut hard to the net, but lost the puck right into the slot for Perron, who fought off a Kevin Bieksa stick check and fired a quick shot that caught Luongo stranded on his goal line.

"You don't want to give David Perron too much room out there," Eakins said. "He can hurt you quickly. He's a deadly shooter, and he was able to get freed up a couple times tonight."

Schroeder tied it 2:39 into the second period when he threw the puck at the net. It hit Potter's toe as he tried to fend off a charging Bieksa and went past Bryzgalov, who never dropped into the butterfly and looked as stunned as Schroeder that the puck went in.

"I saw (the) puck was going wide and I turned my body to push to the post, and when it hit the skate, I was stunned," Bryzgalov said. "I was just watching the puck go in."

Joensuu put Edmonton ahead for good early in the third after Smyth won the puck battle.

"I have to come up with that save," said Luongo, who indicated he got caught on his post and focused on Smyth on the short side. "The team needed it, and I didn't come up with it."

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