Series (Game 2 of 6)

Vancouver leads 4-2

Game 1: Saturday, October 11th
Game 2: Saturday, December 20th
Game 3: Saturday, December 27th
Game 4: Saturday, February 21st
Game 5: Friday, March 12th
Game 6: Saturday, April 3rd

Canucks 3

(18-8-2, 43 pts)

Oilers 0

(12-15-0, 30 pts)

10:00 PM ET, December 20, 2003

Rexall Place, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

1 2 3 T
VAN 0 2 13
EDM 0 0 00

M. Naslund (Canucks - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

D. Cloutier (Canucks - G): Saves: 24, Save Pct.: 1.000

E. Jovanovski (Canucks - D): Goals: 0, Assists: 1

Vancouver extends its Northwest lead

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) -- The Vancouver Canucks had plenty of offense and more than enough defense to beat the Edmonton Oilers.

Dan Cloutier stopped 24 shots for his first shutout of the season, leading the Canucks over the Oilers 3-0 on Saturday night.

"I've been close so many times this year, it's definitely nice," he said.

Markus Naslund scored in the opening moments of the second period, and Mike Keane and Jarkko Ruutu also scored for the Canucks, who stretched their lead atop the Northwest Division to four points over Calgary.

"I thought we played extremely well defensively," Cloutier said. "We've got so much offense that if we do stick with the defensive side of the game, we should be able to pull wins out against pretty well a lot of teams."

Edmonton has won once in its last eight home games and has managed just two victories in 14 games overall.

"It certainly is a desperate time for us, and we need to come up with a better effort at home than that," Oilers defenseman Steve Staios said. "It's never too early to look at the standings and see where we're at.

"We have to get going here, there's no doubt about it."

Cloutier was the difference this time.

"He played very strong," Keane said. "We had a real solid game, but we need good goaltending, and that's what he's given us all year."

Turnovers did the Oilers in Saturday.

Edmonton was able to start with much more jump than it has shown on home ice lately. The Oilers generated a few scoring opportunities early, including a one-timer by Raffi Torres from the side of the net that Cloutier did well to save and a breakaway by Ethan Moreau in the final minute of the opening period.

But the Canucks took a 1-0 lead 26 seconds into the second period on Naslund's 18th goal.

Todd Bertuzzi skated along the Oilers' blue line and into the zone before dishing to Naslund, who scored on a low shot through a gaping hole in Ty Conklin's legs.

"I thought we worked harder overall," Naslund said. "The intensity is what we've been looking for lately."

The Canucks captain has 39 points, third in the NHL behind Washington's Robert Lang (42) and Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk (40).

Vancouver extended the lead on a fluky giveaway in the Edmonton end. A pass from defenseman Cory Cross, intended for Torres, bounced off the forward's skate right to Keane, who buried a quick shot behind Conklin.

"That second goal was a tough one for them," Vancouver forward Trevor Linden said.

The Canucks had 16 shots in a fast-paced second period.

Ruutu made it 3-0 when he jumped in front of an errant pass from Jason Chimera and went in alone, finishing with a great move on Conklin at 6:34 of the third.

The Oilers managed to stop one streak of futility by not allowing a power-play goal. Edmonton's league-worst penalty-killing unit had been scored on in 14 straight games.

Game notes

Bertuzzi has an assist in four consecutive games. ... Edmonton, ranked 28th with the man advantage (10.8 percent) failed to score on three power-play attempts. ... The Oilers are 2-6-3 in the past 11 games against the Canucks.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press