The Swedish-born goaltender needed to make only 14 saves for a 3-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night—his first start since being acquired from Pittsburgh in a trade in August.
“The way we played—no mistakes, no giveaways, keeping everything to the outside—it was a fabulous game by our team.” Hedberg said of his eighth career shutout. “The chances I had to face were few and far between. I don’t think I had too much hard stuff to deal with tonight.”
Hedberg, who was brought to Vancouver to back up starter Dan Cloutier, made his best save off Jason Smith’s point-blank redirection in the third period. By then it was already 3-0 thanks to two goals and an assist from Matt Cooke.
“We re really trying to work on shoring up our own end,” said Cooke, who matched his career high for points despite playing against the Oilers’ top line.
Defenseman Jiri Slegr, playing his first NHL game since winning the Stanley Cup with Detroit two years ago, added a short-handed goal as the Canucks improved to 2-0.
Tommy Salo made 19 saves for the Oilers (1-1-0), who struggled to generate much offense despite nine power plays.
“Our penalty kill was unbelievable,” Cooke said. “If we had the puck at all, it went 280 feet. When you’re making them go back two and three times a power play that only gives them 15 or 20 seconds in our end to actually work it.”
Cooke opened the scoring 1:41 into the first period, racing down the right side alone after Edmonton defenseman Steve Staios was knocked down behind the play and tipping Mattias Ohlund’s cross-ice pass over a sprawling Salo.
“I got a stick in the eye,” said Staios, sporting eight fresh stitches on his upper left eyelid. “I think it was Cooke, the guy who scored the goal. It was a blatant missed call and we have to learn how to rebound from that, we can’t lose our edge.”
Cooke made it 2-0 with a similar effort seven minutes later. This time he cut hard down the left side and held off the backcheck of Mike York long enough to redirect Ed Jovanovski’s backdoor pass behind Salo.
“I just tried to get there as fast as I could,” Cooke said. “We know we have to be responsible in our own end if we’re going to be out against the top line, but we also want to take advantage when we get opportunities offensively.”
The Oilers didn’t get many of those opportunities at the other end. Edmonton managed just six shots in the second period despite six chances with the man advantage, including a four-minute power play in which they had no shots and gave up a short-handed goal.
“They couldn’t even enter the zone,” Hedberg said. “I don’t know if they had any shots on the power play, it couldn’t be many.”
Slegr, a healthy scratch in Vancouver’s first game after signing as a free agent this summer, one-timed Mike Keane’s pass past Salo after Cooke started a three-on-one short-handed rush in his own end.
Vancouver played the second half of the game without their top defenseman after Jovanovski was tossed for jumping Brad Isbister in response to a boarding hit on Trevor Linden. Jovanovski, who came in with fists flying and left Isbister bleeding, received an instigating minor, a fighting major, a 10-minute misconduct and a game misconduct.
Vancouver finished 0-for-8 on the power play.
Vancouver C Mats Lindgren didn’t play for a second straight game after re-injuring his back, which kept him out of 28 games and the entire playoffs last season. … Keane cleared waivers and played his first game with Vancouver since signing as a free agent on Wednesday. … Edmonton forward Ryan Smyth, who has been moved to center from left wing in the absence of unsigned C Mike Comrie, is playing with a fractured finger. … The Oilers were winless(0-2-1-2) against Vancouver last season.