GAME STORY: Canucks 4, Oilers 2
The Oilers get two points apiece from Jurco, Marody and Russell but drop the second game of a pre-season back-to-back to the Vancouver Canucks by a score of 4-2by Cait MacPhail / EdmontonOilers.com
VANCOUVER, BC - The trio of Tomas Jurco, Patrick Russell and Cooper Marody accounted for all the offence while combining for two points apiece and Oilers goalie prospect Shane Starrett made more than a few five-alarm saves, but it was the Vancouver Canucks who managed a 4-2 pre-season victory over Edmonton on Tuesday night.
The Oilers iced a group largely consisting of prospects and newcomers looking to make their mark on coaches and management as they took on a more veteran-laden lineup of Canucks.
The opening frame was all Edmonton, at least on the shot clock and in the possession category, as the Oilers carried much of the play while outshooting their Pacific Division rivals 14-5 in the 1st with an impressive 12 different players recording a shot on net in the first 20.
The period's lone tally came courtesy of a Brandon Sutter penalty shot after Oilers D prospect Dmitri Samorukov hauled down the centre on a breakaway. Sutter outwaited Oilers netminder Shane Starrett and lifted a backhand over the right pad to give the Canucks a 1-0 lead with 3:40 remaining in the first period.
Despite the final result, standing out in his 2019 pre-season debut was Oilers goaltender Starrett, with his most impressive stretch coming in a 2nd-period flurry on a Canucks power play where he turned aside multiple high-danger scoring opportunities in tight to keep the game 1-0.
"He made some good saves. That power play in the second period he made some real strong saves." said Oilers Head Coach Dave Tippett.
"All in all, it was a good game for him."
The goaltender himself felt that, despite the result, the team as a whole performed admirably and was happy to get some pre-season action under his belt.
Video: POST-GAME RAW | Shane Starrett 09.17.19
"I felt pretty good out there. It's nice to get playing games again. It's unfortunate we didn't come away with a win, but I liked the effort our team put forward," said Starrett.
"It's different reads once you're out there in a game but once you start getting settled in, it's just like riding a bike and you're feeling it again."
It was with 6:15 minutes remaining in the 2nd that the Oilers broke through on the scoresheet when a cheeky Cooper Marody pass off the side of Vancouver's net bounced onto a trailing Tomas Jurco's blade who slapped home his first of the pre-season to knot things up 1-1. Just minutes later, Jurco came close to duplicating his previous effort when another rebound found him in front but was turned aside by Canucks' goalie Thatcher Demko.
But it wasn't long before the line of Patrick Russell, Marody and Jurco would strike again when a three-way passing play between the trio resulted in a Patrick Russell wrister from the slot that blew past Demko to give the Oilers the 2-1 advantage with 16 minutes left in regulation.
Jurco remains among a group of forwards battling for depth positions up for grabs, and the Slovakian forward was pleased first pre-season opportunity resulted in a two-point night.
"I'm working really hard and doing my best to be noticeable out there on the ice and do good things," said Jurco of his Oilers pre-season debut.
Following his first look at Russell, Marody and Jurco in pre-season action, Coach Tippett liked what they brought.
Video: POST-GAME RAW | Dave Tippett 09.17.19
"I've liked (Patrick) Russell the last couple games, he worked. Marody's got some good skill and Jurco has come with the real mindset that he wants to make this team and he played a strong game tonight. He's got good skill... He's scored at the American League level and it will be interesting to see if he can score at the NHL level now," said Tippett.
The Oilers only lead of the game was shortlived, though, as their undoing came in the latter half of the final frame when Elias Pettersson snapped home a five-hole marker off a Starrett rebound and was followed shortly after by Sutter's second of the night to make it 3-2.
The Canucks would add an empty-netter en route to the 4-2 final.
Despite the result, Tippett felt it was a good showing for group of players still out to earn their NHL chops.
"(The score) was not from a lack of trying. I think three or four times the puck was behind their goalie and couldn't find the net. So, I like the effort. There's some mistakes we can clean up, but it was a good evaluation game," said Tippett.
"Every game as you go, you start to see players separate themselves and that's what we're looking for. The competition has been very good."
The Oilers next pre-season tuneup will be a rematch against the Canucks at home on Thursday, September 19.