Ethan Moreau fired in a slap shot 51 seconds after the opening faceoff and the Oilers held for a 2-1 victory Tuesday night. The Oilers made it two goals on two shots when rookie Patrick Thoresen slipped a shot past Dany Sabourin two minutes later.
“They deserved the win,” Canucks captain Marcus Naslund said. “They played better than we did and made better decisions with the puck and generated more offense even though they might not have played their best game.”
Oilers coach Craig MacTavish wasn’t worried about style points or the little bit of offense. He was relieved his team found a way to stay ahead.
“We have some guys who are in need of a break around the net, in need of a goal,” he said. “The good thing is that we are finding ways to win in the interim.
“We put some pressure on them early, and it looked like it could be a pretty one-sided affair. Then, for whatever reason, we weren’t getting the shots. Sabourin was able to get comfortable in net again.”
Edmonton goalie Jussi Markkanen, making his first start since Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, showed a bit of early rust but was able to correct his mistakes. With the Oilers on the power play, Markkanen gave up the puck behind the net before recovering and making a save with a desperate leap to preserve the 2-0 lead.
“I got a little unlucky losing the puck and then I got really lucky getting back in time to stop it,” Markkanen said. “It was good they didn’t score there because it could have been a different game after that. But I felt confident in net.”
Still down by two goals midway through the third period, the Canucks had a prime scoring chance as they skated with a two-man advantage, but they couldn’t beat Markkanen.
With 2 1/2 minutes left, Naslund ruined Markkanen’s shutout bid with a power-play goal. That’s as close as the Canucks would get.
Vancouver forward Trevor Linden sat out as coach Alain Vigneault is trying to make sure the 36-year-old right winger doesn’t get too worn down throughout the season.
“We felt that last year at times Trevor looked a bit tired,” Vigneault said. “I have to think about what is best for Trevor Linden and for the team. A fresher Trevor Linden, according to what I’ve been told, is going to beneficial for us down the road.”
Edmonton won last season’s series 6-1-1. … Sabourin also made his first start of the season. … The Oilers have apparently adopted a unique player of the game system, awarding the honored player with a 1970’s style long leather jacket with a fur collar to be worn home.