EDMONTON, AB - Ryan Miller stopped 28 shots in the Canucks 2-0 shutout of the Oilers at Rexall Place.
“I thought it was an even game,” Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins said. “I thought we did a much better job in our zone. I thought Ryan Miller played a hell of a game, but we still need the points.”
A back and forth scoreless first period came to a close with the Oilers trailing in shots 12-10. But it was a solid start for a team still searching for their first win of the season.
“It’s a tough result for us and another game where we felt we were right there,” Oilers winger Taylor Hall said. “(Ben Scrivens) played great for us, he really gave us a chance to win and it’s unfortunate. We’ve had games where we’ve had four goals a couple of times and then tonight we get blanked. We’ve got to find a way to get to their front of the net and get greasy goals.”
Scrivens made all 12 stops in the opening 20 minutes, perhaps none bigger than the one following a turnover behind the Oilers net. Scrivens denied Vancouver’s ninth shot of the night to keep things scoreless.
Oilers centre Mark Arcobello went to the box for a hooking call at 1:13 of the second period. On the penalty kill, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins created some pressure in the Canucks zone. The centre had a shorthanded breakaway turned away by the blocker of Canucks goalie Ryan Miller.
“You just try to make a difference when you can,” Miller said. “I was lucky enough to get a piece of Nugent-Hopkins’ shot. He hit his spot pretty good, I think I maybe got a little bit of it and maybe got a stick on that too or the knob. It’s one of those nights where you feel fortunate to keep it at zeros and watch the guys get a lead. At the end of the night, we got rewarded.”
The Oilers fourth line created a prime scoring chance midway through the second. Matt Hendricks looked like he had Miller beat, but the netminder made the stop.
Arcobello was hit off balance in a battle for the puck, spun and struck Canucks defenceman Dan Hamhuis in the face with his stick. Hamhuis’ nose was bleeding profusely as he skated off the ice and towards the locker room. No penalty was called on what appeared to be an accidental high-stick.
Hamhuis later returned to the game wearing a full cage to protect his face.
“If he doesn’t come back then we probably don’t win the game,” Canucks Head Coach Willie Desjardins said. “It’s the little things like that that can determine where your team goes. It was great for us that he fought through it and played and I think all the guys in that room appreciate it.”
The Edmonton fourth line once again created a scoring chance. With 8:34 remaining in the second period, Hendricks tried for a wraparound and a scrum formed around the net, over the top of Miller, as both teams searched for the rebound.
The game stayed scoreless for the time being.
The first goal of the game came at 15:49 of the second. The Canucks pressure got the Oilers scrambling in front of Scrivens. Radim Vrbata took advantage and buried his third goal of the season, from the side of the net. Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin recorded the assists.
With under eight minutes remaining in the third period, Nugent-Hopkins just missed blocker side on a 3-on-2 set up. The Oilers continued to press for the game-tying goal.
The Oilers pulled Scrivens for the extra attacker with 2:50 remaining in the game. The Oilers netminder made 28 saves in the loss.
“We’ve got to find a way to come out on top,” Scrivens said. “Obviously, we played better in a lot of areas. I thought all of our lines played really well. They got one quality chance at me and buried it. We couldn’t find a way to do the same with ours. In spite of us playing better, we still have to push through and find a way. There’s not a lot of condolence to play well and not win. We still have work to do.”
Daniel Sedin fired a long-range shot into the empty net with 15 seconds remaining to close out the 2-0 win.
“Close isn’t going to get you anything in this league,” Oilers winger Jordan Eberle said. “We’ve got a long homestand here, we’ve got six more games and we’ve got to string together some wins. It’s plain and simple.”