VANCOUVER - The Vancouver Canucks pledged not to look past the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night and ahead to a Stanley Cup rematch with the Boston Bruins 24 hours later.
They lived up to that promise.
Vancouver dominated the tired Oilers from start to finish, breaking open a 1-0 game when Zack Kassian and Chris Higgins scored 3:41 apart early in the third period. Dale Weise added his first career power-play goal with 34.8 seconds left, and Roberto Luongo made 19 saves in a 4-0 victory at Rogers Arena.
"We didn't talk too much about Xs and Os. We really cut our meetings short as far as talking about that stuff," coach John Tortorella said of his preparation. "It was basically about being ready to play the right way. We talked about a mindset from yesterday at practice right on until the drop of the puck here, about being ready to play."
Daniel Sedin opened the scoring on a rare power-play slap shot from the left point 8:41 into the second period, and defenseman Jason Garrison added a career-best three assists as Vancouver (19-10-5) extended its season-long winning streak to six games.
"The past three games we've had spurts, but today we brought it right from the start," said forward Ryan Kesler, who had two assists. "We didn't give them much and it was a complete effort by everybody."
Luongo wasn't busy, but made several highlight saves while the outcome was in doubt to earn his third shutout this season.
"They had some opportunities, a couple breakaways, Lu stood on his head," Kesler said. "We had some Grade-A chances and finally the floodgates opened and we started scoring."
After a lot of talk all week about the Bruins visiting Vancouver for the first time since winning Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final here almost exactly 2 1/2 years ago - and a lot of refusals to talk about it with the Oilers in town first - the Canucks came out flying. They had three great chances on the opening shift, outshooting the Oilers 6-0 in the opening six minutes and 14-4 in the first period.
"That first shift, that sets the tempo," Tortorella said.
They didn't open the scoring until almost midway through the second period, however. With twin brother Henrik in the penalty box and the Canucks on a 4-on-3 power play, Daniel's shot 8:41 into the second period hit the leg of defenseman Nick Schultz as he battled Higgins in the slot and bounced between the legs of goalie Devan Dubnyk.
Kassian scored in similar fashion 2:26 into the third, deflecting a long shot by David Booth through Dubnyk's legs, and Higgins snapped a wrist shot off a drop pass by Kesler under Dubnyk at 6:07.
"It's always nice to get a lead like that," said Luongo, whose 65th career shutout moved him within one of Patrick Roy for 14th place on the all-time list. "We had a great start. We didn't score, but we really got the momentum early in that game with great forechecking and created some chances. We really played a 60-minute game."
They still needed some big saves from Luongo on 2-on-1 rushes. He made a diving a poke check to deny Ales Hemsky after a strong move in tight late in the first period, then flashed the glove on David Perron from inside the left faceoff dot with 6:25 left in the second.
"It had a magnet on it tonight," Luongo said of a glove he also used to rob defenseman Justin Schultz midway through the third period.
Dubnyk was back in goal one night after being pulled 20 minutes into a 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins. He matched Luongo for the first two periods and kept the Oilers in the game while they were being outshot 26-10 through 40 minutes, but things unraveled in the third.
"If you spend that much time in your own zone, bad things are going to happen," said coach Dallas Eakins, who credited his Canucks counterpart. "I thought we expended a lot last night in that game and I give John Tortorella and his group great credit. They were able to prepare for us. They were sitting around waiting for this game, so they were able to key on us. He had that team ready to go. … That's as good as I've seen the Canucks play in a while."
Dubnyk finished with 36 saves as the Oilers, last in the Western Conference with a record of 11-20-3, lost consecutive games for the first time since mid-November.
"That's the most frustrating part of the whole year," Dubnyk said. "We've shown that we're capable and we know what to do. There are going to be nights when things aren't working but we need to find a way when it's not going perfectly to hang in and grease out a win."
Edmonton got forward Boyd Gordon back after missing six games with a shoulder injury, and shook up the lineup, dropping Sam Gagner down to the fourth line to start the game.
It didn't do much to spark the Oilers, who were starting a four-game road trip. Edmonton did get odd-man rushes, but Perron failed to get a shot early in the first period, and Jordan Eberle did the same with another odd-man rush right after Vancouver opened the scoring.
"[Dubnyk] kept us in it and gave us a chance to try and find a way to tie the game out there, but we were just flat," Eberle said. "I'm sick of trying to find excuses for why we're losing. It's just frustrating."
Kassian finally broke it open with his first point in nine games, tipping the puck through a surprised Dubnyk after Booth, who also snapped a five-game pointless skid, cut into the middle and threw the puck at the net while falling to the ice. After Higgins converted a nice pass from Kesler, the Canucks were able to play their bottom lines more, resting their top players for the showdown with Boston.
Fourth-liner Weise banged in a rebound during a last-minute power play. Minutes later, the Canucks were trying to downplay the Bruins game.
"It's been a few years now and I think we have all moved on," said Luongo, who confirmed he is starting. "That being said there is a history there and those are the type of games you want to play."
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