VANCOUVER, BC --Drake Caggiula scored two goals but it was not enough as the Vancouver Canucks defeated the Oilers 5-3 at Rogers Arena on Wednesday night.
Troy Stecher led the way for Vancouver with a goal and two assists, including a helper on the game-winning goal.
On the winner, Anton Rodin converted a nice cross-ice pass from Stecher before depositing the puck into the open cage behind Nick Ellis to make it 4-3 for the home team. The goal came with Benoit Pouliot in the penalty box serving a tripping minor.
Erik Gudbranson added an empty-net shorthanded goal with 1:26 to play to clinch the outcome.
Edmonton visits Winnipeg on Friday. Game time is 6:00 PM MDT and it will be streamed live right here on EdmontonOilers.com in the Oilers region (Alberta/Saskatchewan/Northwest Territories).
"I liked our start. I thought we were fast and we were on top of the opposition (early). But after that, we got sloppy. Our passing was very poor. We threw a lot of passes into the skates. When it was on the top, we didn't do much with it. It slowed us down," Oilers head coach Todd McLellan began.
"I didn't like our specialty teams one bit, on both sides: power play and penalty kill. That can happen at this time of year. We haven't had a chance to work with (the team). We've got a lot of pieces that aren't used to working together so we've got a lot to do there."
Midway through the opening period, McDavid skated in on the rush with Jordan Eberle and Milan Lucic. McDavid's backhand feed over to Lucic was put on net but stopped by Canucks starting goaltender Ryan Miller. Oilers were off to a good start, with a 7-2 edge in the early going.
It was the first game for what is projected to be Edmonton's top line and while they were dangerous and had some outstanding scoring chances, the consensus was that there was a lot of work to be done.
"I thought they'd get a little bit more done on the power play but for the first time playing together, I thought they looked dangerous in certain situations and had some good scoring chances. Probably our most dangerous line," McLellan remarked.
McDavid agreed with his head coach.
"It's just experience and getting to know each other a little better," said McDavid. "We're trying to talk it out. Ebs and I already have a lot of chemistry and we're trying to find it with Looch. We did a lot of good stuff tonight and a lot to improve on as well."
Eberle added to McDavid's thoughts.
"We definitely had some shifts where we controlled their play in their end. I think we need to find a way to get the puck in around the net. I think with Looch's big body, he should open up some space for Connor and I. Playing with Connor last year, we had a lot of success on the rush. We created a lot of chances that way with his speed and I think if we want to grow our game as a line we're going to need to find some ways to score on the cycle."
It was Vancouver that struck first on the scoreboard. From the right point, Troy Stecher's wrist shot found its way through traffic and into the back of the net behind Oilers goaltender Jonas Gustavsson to open the scoring at the 12:20 mark.
Almost exactly two minutes later, Patrick Maroon made an excellent play behind the net to stop the puck and then shovelled it in front where Drake Caggiula made no mistake, banging the puck past Miller to get the Oilers back on even terms.
Vancouver regained the lead with three minutes left in the opening frame as Stecher pinched in before spotting Brendan Gaunce at the top of the right circle. Gaunce wired a shot from position past Gustavsson.
20 seconds into a two-man advantage late in the first period, Caggiula converted on the two-man advantage. He finished a nice give-and-go exchange with Benoit Pouliot before he wired the puck from the right circle by Miller to get the game back on even terms with his second goal of the night.
Shots on goal were 13-8 Oilers after one.
Alex Edler took a hooking penalty to put Edmonton right back on the power play.
Thatcher Demko replaced Ryan Miller in goal for Vancouver with 10:19 to go in the second. Miller stopped 15 of 17 shots. Right before the goaltender switch, Joseph LaBate took an elbowing penalty for Edmonton's fourth power play of the night.
With 4:27 to go, Vancouver moved back in front after LaBate corralled a pass from Edler in the slot, then cut across the net before neatly backhanding it in.
Once again, the Oilers responded back to tie the game. With 54 seconds to go in the middle frame, Jere Sallinen dropped the puck back to Anton Slepyshev who got it to Griffin Reinhart. Reinhart wired a wrist shot from the right circle glove side past Demko to make it 3-3.
"I came into this year and wanted to try and be more offensive. It was nice to get that goal out of the way but there's still a lot of work to do. It's the first game, shaking the legs off and getting the rust out of you. I'm looking forward to going on from here," said Reinhart.
Nick Ellis opened the third period in goal for the Oilers. Gustavsson stopped 14 of 17 shots in 40 minutes of action.
Ellis acquitted himself well through his first seven minutes of action, turning aside all five shots he faced. Shots were 5-1 Canucks near the midway point of the final frame, to pull even on the shot clock 22-22.
With 8:46 to go in the third, Patrick Maroon got injured in the corner of the Oilers zone on what looked like a harmless collision with James Sheppard. He had to be helped off the ice and was favouring his left knee. Sheppard and Nurse each got two minutes for roughing after the incident.