VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP)—Ranked near the bottom of the NHL on special teams and coming off three straight road losses, the Vancouver Canucks spent their first couple of days back home practicing their power play and penalty killing.
It paid off Saturday night.
Vancouver scored four times on the power play—one more than it managed in 33 chances all season coming into the game—including Kyle Wellwood’s go-ahead goal 2:32 into the third period en route to a 6-3 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.
“We had a few days to practice it and we had some new guys out there and I think we were able to move the puck well and when the puck went to the net it seemed to bounce the right way for us,” said Wellwood, who was on his way to the minors last weekend before Pavol Demitra’s rib injury forced his recall.
Now Wellwood’s on the power play and making the most of it. He corralled a loose puck at the side of the net and, after first looking to pass, fired a shot over Mathieu Garon’s glove. It was Wellwood’s second power-play goal and third point in two games since replacing Demitra on the second line and second power-play unit.
“We changed some things and now we re getting more set up time and you get more chances and eventually it s going to go in,” Wellwood said of a power play that came into the game ranked second-to-last in the NHL at just 9.1 percent.
Mason Raymond, a second-year forward playing the point, scored the first of his two power-play goals 3:25 into the game. Jason Krog, who was called up along with Wellwood but moved onto the first power play unit during midweek practices, added the fourth power-play goal on six chances with 3:14 left to play.
Rookie Jannik Hansen added a pair of even-strength goals as Vancouver ended a three-game losing streak with just its second win in the last six contests.
Vancouver’s penalty kill, which came in ranked 26th in the NHL, also blanked the Oilers on four chances as Roberto Luongo finished with 28 saves.
“We worked hard the last couple of days and the PK stood up tall. Luongo made some big saves and we pulled through some power play goals,” Raymond said.
Robert Nilsson had a goal and an assist, and defensemen Steve Staios and Denis Grebeshkov also scored for the Oilers, who have lost three straight on the road in the last four nights after starting the season 4-0.
“Our penalty killing was bad. It was brutal,” Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. “When they’re 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-for-4 on their special teams, you can’t overcome that. You’ve got to be able to kill the penalties.”
The speedy Raymond opened the scoring on a 3-on-2 power-play rush early, and added his second on a point shot through traffic 7:39 into the second period. Hansen made it 3-1 less than a minute later, but the Oilers got back into the game after Luongo whiffed on Nilsson’s shot from the top of the right faceoff circle with 6:29 left in the period. Edmonton tied it less than 3 minutes later when Sam Gagner’s shot hit a stick and deflected to an unchecked Staios on the far side.
It was the first point of the season for Gagner, who had 49 as a rookie last season. He had a chance to give the Oilers a lead after being hauled down on a breakaway and rewarded with a penalty shot with 2 minutes left in the period.
But Luongo made up for his earlier glove gaffe by using it to stop Gagner’s shot.
“It was a big moment in the game,” Luongo said. “I know he likes to make a lot of moves on his breakaway and I said to myself I was going to be as patient as possible and he ended up shooting right away. That’s why I didn’t move much, I was kind of surprised, but at end I as able to react.”
Garon made 24 saves for the Oilers, who lost defenseman Jason Strudwick to an undisclosed injury in the first period and forward Eric Cole to a game misconduct after a spirited scrap with Mattias Ohlund in the second.
Krog, who has spent the majority of his career in the minors, was playing his 200th career NHL game at age 33. … Grebeshkov s goal, which tied it 53 seconds into the second period, was his first in the NHL. … Daniel Sedin’s assist on Raymond’s second goal ended a five-game point drought on the Canucks’ top line. … Vancouver took No. 7 out of circulation for the season, raising it to the rafters in a pregame ceremony as part of a new program called the 7th Canuck designed to honor fans who have sold out 217 consecutive games, a streak that will hit five years on Nov. 14.