VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP)—The Edmonton Oilers had no problem making up for the absence of two of its three best forwards Monday night.
Shawn Horcoff and Raffi Torres also scored, and Petr Sykora added two assists, as Edmonton snapped a three-game losing streak despite missing offensive wingers Ryan Smyth (broken thumb) and Ales Hemsky (shoulder).
“When Smitty and Hemer go down it throws more minutes around for everybody and we have to find goals elsewhere,” said Horcoff. “There s been a lot of talk about our offensive depth this season and tonight was a big test of it.”
Roloson, who was pulled from his last two starts, didn’t have to make a lot of spectacular saves as the Oilers tightened up defensively, often dropping all five skaters into the neutral zone. But he was solid most of the night, and stopped Alexendre Burrows’ wraparound with 4:29 left—after a video review proved inconclusive—to preserve his second shutout of the season.
“I don’t worry about the last two games,” Roloson said. “You just have to look forward and be ready to give your guys a chance to win and that’s what I did. We played well defensively. We didn’t give up a lot of Grade-A chances compared to what we have in the past. Guys kept them to the outside and any time they had a grade-A chance, they were rushed to get the shot.”
Edmonton moved into sole possession of first in the Northwest Division, three points up on Vancouver, but just four ahead of last-place Colorado.
“We were looking at today as almost a must-win,” said Lupul. “We played two awful games so to bounce back and play our strongest in a while is pretty big.”
Roberto Luongo made 14 saves for the Canucks, who have lost four of six and have scored more than one goal just once in that span.
“Our process was good,” said coach Alain Vigneault, insisting his team played better than in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Colorado. “We just couldn’t score again.”
Vancouver also lost three players to injury in the first period—two of them keys to a struggling offense ranked last in the NHL in goals-per-game (2.15) coming in.
Taylor Pyatt, who is second on the team with nine goals, left late in the first period and appeared to be favoring his left arm after being knocked into the boards by Jarrett Stoll. Top-scoring defenseman Sami Salo left in the second with an undisclosed upper body injury. Fourth-line forward Rick Rypien also left in the second with what the team announced was a lower body injury.
Vigneault said all three will be re-evaluated Tuesday, including an MRI for Rypien.
After the Canucks failed to generate any offense on two early power plays, the Oilers opened the scoring on their first advantage when Bieksa reached out with his stick and tipped Horcoff’s 35-foot slap shot into the slot, where it hit defenseman Willie Mitchell and fluttered past a helpless Luongo.
“It was a lucky goal,” Horcoff said of his third goal this season. “But lately I’ve had some good quality chances that didn’t go in so it was nice.”
Tjarnqvist doubled the lead 58 seconds into the second period with a point shot that appeared to hit someone’s leg in front of the net before going through Luongo’s legs. On the next shift, Lupul beat defenseman Lukas Krajicek out of the corner, and fired a shot through a Horcoff screen and past Luongo’s blocker.
Torres beat Luongo in alone after a bad Vancouver giveaway early in the third.
^Notes: Edmonton recalled LW Alexei Mikhnov from the AHL after Smyth was hurt, but the 6-foot-5 former first-round draft pick didn’t dress. … Vancouver LW Matt Cooke was back in the lineup after missing a game with a muscle strain in the back of his ribcage. C Marc Chouinard was a healthy scratch to make room. … Referee Mick McGeough officiated his first Oilers game since admittedly blowing a call that cost Edmonton a late tying goal against Dallas, leading to a tirade from Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish that resulted in a $10,000 fine from the NHL.