The Edmonton Oilers skated step-for-step with the lineup of the reigning Western Conference Champions for nearly the entire game, but three third-period goals by the Canucks handed the Oilers a 4-1 loss to conclude the 2011 NHL pre-season schedule.
The Oilers came out strong, pressuring the Canucks 'D' and earning three separate odd-man rush opportunities only six minutes in. The shooters elected to keep each time, but Canucks 'tender Roberto Luongo turned them all away with ease.
With 12:44 remaining, a strong push by the home side enabled the Canucks to pull even in shots and draw a power-play chance when lumbering rearguard Andy Sutton was assessed a hooking minor.
Strong penalty-killing and three saves from Nikolai Khabibulin helped preserve the scoreless tie passed the period's 10-minute mark.
The Canucks went back to the man-avantage when Corey Potter was charged for hooking at 12:08. With only 18 seconds remaining in the chance, Vancouver went up 1-0. Dan Hamhuis' rocket was redirected home by Cody Hodgson beside a sprawling Lennart Petrell between the hash-marks.
A late-period cross-checking minor to Tom Gilbert put the Canucks back on the power-play, but the Oilers responded well, surviving the chance without allowing another Vancouver attempt.
With 20 minutes in the books, the Canucks held a 1-0 lead and were up 11-8 on the shot clock.
The Oilers pulled to within one shot of the Canucks' tally before being awarded a power-play at 4:18; Alex Edler was assessed a boarding minor. Edmonton was quick to strike, drawing even 50 seconds later when a chaotic goal-mouth scramble allowed the Oilers to equalize. With help from Ryan Smyth, No. 91 bounced home a rebound to make it a 1-1 game.
With 12:11 on the clock, bad blood boiled over. Vancouver's Victor Oreskovich lined up and crushed Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, provoking a chaotic Oilers response. Theo Peckham stepped in, pounding Canucks centre Max Lapierre with crushing blows in a lengthy and highly-spirited tilt.
In total, 16 minutes in penalties were assessed, including a charging minor to Oreskovich.
At 13:40, searching for the match's go-ahead marker, the Oilers went back to the power-play when Vancouver's Alex Edler was assessed a minor for hitting to the head. Edmonton did scoop a 20-18 edge in shots, but were unable to orchestrate the game's 2-1 tally.
The Oilers were awarded another late-period power-play when Mikael Samuelsson went off for slashing, but the 1-1 score could not be broken. With 40 minutes expired, Edmonton held a 24-19 shot lead.
An early-period hooking call, 50 seconds in, on Ryan Smyth put Vancouver back on the advantage, but the Oilers erased the opportunity with a smoothly-run PK.
Moments later at 5:36, the Canucks were able to bulge the twine. Jannik Hansen picked up the loose puck in the slot, snapping a missle bar-in, blocker-side on Khabibulin to restore his team's one-goal lead.
The Oilers were presented with another two power-play chances late in the third, but were unable to even the score.
Just as the Oilers looked to replace Khabibulin with an extra-attacker in the waning moments, Mikael Samuelsson snapped the puck past the veteran netminder, putting his team up 3-1 at 19:15. An empty-net tally by Cody Hodgson with only 1.2 seconds to play sealed a 4-1 Canucks victory.
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