EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Casey DeSmith made a strong first impression in his Vancouver Canucks debut on Saturday night.
DeSmith made 37 saves and Nils Hoglander had a goal and an assist as the Canucks continued their early season dominance over the Edmonton Oilers, emerging with a 4-3 victory.
“Obviously, coming to a new team it feels so good to contribute early and get two points and be a big part of the win and just kind of come together as a team early. And I think we’re doing that,” said DeSmith, who played five seasons in Pittsburgh before being dealt to Montreal this summer and then subsequently flipped to Vancouver before the start of the season.
“Good teams find a way, so it’s a good way to start off the season, finding a way.”
Andrei Kuzmenko, Jack Studnicka and Sam Lafferty also scored for the Canucks, who beat the same Oilers 8-1 in their season opener on Wednesday. Vancouver was winless in its first seven games last season.
“We had some good pushback, we killed a lot of penalties, we had some guys on fumes, we were overusing some guys because of the penalty kill, so I give a lot of credit to the guys,” said Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet, whose team killed five of seven penalties against the potent Oilers power play.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a goal and two assists, and Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid also had a goal and an assist for the Oilers, who outshot the visitors 41-16.
“If you lose two games in the middle of the season it is not the end of the world,” said Oilers forward Zach Hyman. “You lose two games here and you get all these questions about your defensive game. It is not ideal, obviously, to lose the first two games. But there is no panic. We are a pretty confident group.”
Edmonton came out looking for retribution for Wednesday’s loss and found it just 42 seconds into the opening period after a flurry of shots on Canucks goaltender Casey DeSmith paid off with Draisaitl poking it in from under his pads in the crease for his second goal of the young season.
The Canucks tied it midway through the first on the power play as a long shot by Quinn Hughes was tipped past Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner by Kuzmenko.
Vancouver took a 2-1 lead with two minutes to play in the first as Brock Boeser hustled to keep a puck onside and launched a long shot on net that was tipped past Skinner by Hoglander in tight.
Edmonton knotted the game back up two minutes into the second period on the power play as the puck came loose to McDavid during a mad scramble in front and he scored his first of the season.
However, the Canucks regained the lead less than a minute later when a giveaway allowed a two-on-none break with Elias Pettersson sending it to Studnicka, who sniped a shot through Skinner’s legs. Studnicka is currently with the Canucks as an emergency call-up.
“We lost the game, so there are four moments in the game we would like to have back,” said Oilers defenseman Mattias Ekholm.
“But at the same time you have to look at 60 minutes and the effort and it is a long season. I think if we keep the shot clock that lopsided in most of our games this year we are going to end up on the winning side. So we will learn from it and move on.”
Canucks: Vancouver plays the second of a five-game road trip against the Flyers on Tuesday.
Oilers: Edmonton plays the Predators on Tuesday.
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