VANCOUVER - Brad Isbister knows it's time to show the Vancouver Canucks what he can do, but he almost cut it too thin Thursday night.
Isbister, a free-agent signing who played for two minor league clubs and the New York Rangers last season, left only 2.5 seconds on the clock when his goal gave Vancouver a 5-4 win over the Edmonton Oilers. The Canucks had just killed a penalty when Isbister broke in with Ryan Kesler on goalie Mathieu Garon.
Isbister, 30, who had one goal in 19 NHL games with New York, snapped a shot that settled inside the near post to give the Canucks their second straight NHL pre-season win.
"A lot of us are in the same boat, fighting for a position on this team," said the six-foot-four, 231-pound Edmonton native who was recruited as fourth-line grit. "I'm no different from anybody else, obviously."
Isbister, who scored 15 goals in 43 games with two AHL clubs last season knows he's on the bubble as the Canucks have several promising young players in camp.
"The more you can do putting points on the board, that's going to help the cause," said Isbister, who logged 16 minutes 12 seconds of ice time, with the last few seconds the most important.
"I knew it was ticking down but I didn't know ... I thought there was a little more time, actually. Good thing I didn't know there was such little time."
Kesler had a goal and two assists for the Canucks and Daniel Sedin added his second goal in as many games. Rookies Brad Moran and Mason Raymond scored power-play goals in the second period to give the Canucks a 4-2 cushion.
However, Ales Hemsky tied the game with 3:22 remaining when he deposited T.J. Kemp's cross-ice pass into an open net behind goalie Curtis Sanford.
Andrew Cogliano started the comeback by tipping in Kyle Brodziak's centring pass.
The Oilers, who lost for the first time in three pre-season games, were credited with only 11 shots over 60 minutes but defenceman Sheldon Souray, making his Oiler debut, scored on the first one.
Souray, signed as an unrestricted free agent to a five-year, US$27-million contract after leading all defencemen with 26 goals for Montreal last season.
Tom Gilbert gave Edmonton a 2-2 tie midway through the second period. Both were power-play goals.
Kesler, who was bothered early last season by an injured hip that eventually required surgery, used his speed effectively and is finding the game easier.
"It was always hard to get warmed up and get going into the periods," he said. "Now I don't feel anything. I think my speed's back."
Kesler scored on another two-on-one break-in, this one with Michael Grabner. He also threaded a pass to Raymond who flipped the puck over the sprawling Garon.
"Their (defence) was sagging toward Grabner and that was the only play I had," he said of his first goal in two pre-season games.
Raymond's speed was a key to the 4-2 goal.
"I just tried to lead him," said Kesler who has ????been auditioning on a line with Daniel and Henrik Sedin. "He can fly out there; he got his stick on it and it went in."
Notes: Defenceman Dan McGillis, who has played 634 career games with five NHL teams, has joined the Canucks on a tryout ... Vancouver has three injured defencemen - Sami Salo (wrist fracture), Willie Mitchell (groin) and Aaron Miller (abdominal surgery) ... the Oilers continue a stretch of three games on the road Saturday in Calgary and Tuesday in Phoenix ... Vancouver is in California this weekend, playing San Jose on Saturday and Anaheim on Sunday.