VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- The holiday break was just
what the Edmonton Oilers needed.
Mired in a monthlong slump and stuck near the bottom of the
Western Conference, the Oilers emerged from four days off and
played one of their best games of the season Saturday night,
scoring five straight goals to beat the Vancouver Canucks 6-2.
"We had a couple of days to think about it," said Brad
Isbister, who broke a 2-2 tie in the second period. "Things
haven't been going that well and we've got to turn this thing
around. Tonight was a big win for us so we've just got to continue
to build from here."
The offensively challenged Oilers added three third-period goals
to hand the Northwest Division-leading Canucks their worst loss of
"We had a great Christmas break and came back and we were
focused," said Ryan Smyth, who had a goal and an assist in the
"It was nice for us to come from a break and get a win,
especially against Vancouver," Tommy Salo said after making 32
saves for his first win in more than seven weeks. "It's always a
tough game when we play them -- today was the same thing. Finally we
get a win and I think that was good for us."
The victory was just the third in 16 games for the Oilers, who
also snapped a four-game winless slide. Edmonton is six points back
of eighth-place Nashville.
"There's lot of hockey, that's what we talked about when we
came back after Christmas, just to be focused and start gaining
some points and get back in the hunt," Smyth said.
"It was pretty clear and simple, they came in and outworked
us," Canucks captain Markus Naslund said. "Overall this is a
proud team and we usually battle even if we have a tough night, we
usually never give up. Tonight was a little different, I thought.
We usually don t get blown out like this."
May opened the scoring 2:06 into the first period on a
redirection for his first goal since coming to Vancouver in a trade
late last season, and his first in 40 games overall.
York tied it with a short-handed goal 7:43 into the second after
Todd Bertuzzi first passed his way out of a three-on-one break in
the Edmonton end, then lost York and the puck behind his own net.
York beat Alex Auld on the far side with a wraparound along the
It was the fourth short-handed goal surrendered by the Canucks
in the last six games.
Sedin banged in a rebound at 10:40 for his first goal in 11
games to restore the Vancouver lead. Naslund appeared to extend the
lead on a partial breakaway a minute later, but the play was
stopped after a two-line pass, and Stoll tied it at 12:40 with his
first goal in 15 games.
"Their short-handed goal gave them some life," Canucks coach
Marc Crawford said. "We took it back from them when Daniel scored
and we were sloppy after that."
Isbister gave the Oilers their first lead on a spin move in the
slot after Mattias Ohlund and Naslund both failed to clear the puck
from the right faceoff circle.
Dvorak added an insurance goal on a breakaway 2:32 into the
third period, Smyth scored on the power play at 11:26, then set up
Hemsky in close just over three minutes later.
"Hopefully we'll look back at this as the game that turned a
forgettable stretch around," Edmonton head coach Craig MacTavish
Auld finished with 20 saves for his first loss in three starts
for Vancouver since being recalled from Manitoba of the American
Hockey League on Dec. 10.
Vancouver D Sami Salo, who took a knee-on-knee hit from
Flames D Denis Gauthier during the third period Friday night, isn't
expected to join the team when it leaves Sunday for a two-game road
trip. Gauthier received a two-game suspension for the hit. ...
Canucks LW Matt Cooke returned after missing 13 games with a
pinched nerve in his shoulder and a blood infection in his elbow.
... Edmonton LW Ethan Moreau played after missing the last game
with a strained pectoral muscle and a sore right shoulder.