The Canucks used all the gas in their tank to take a single point as they dropped their first game to a Northwest Division opponent, a 1-0 decision to the Edmonton Oilers.
Ales Hemsky scored the only goal of the shootout while Mathieu Garon came up big in goal to lead.
Garon made 29 saves through overtime and stopped all three in the shootout to get the best of Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, who matched him until the very end.
“The guys worked hard, but the puck just wasn’t going in,” said Luongo. “We hit a couple of posts and the puck was bouncing out, but the effort was definitely there - that’s not a question.”
The Canucks have lost seven games on home-ice this year and have managed to take just five points on GM Place ice in total.
“The bottom line is we have to win at home,” said Luongo. “It doesn’t matter how we do it. If we’ve got to take a shootout and win it 1-0, then that’s what we have to do.”
Garon stopped Bryon Ritchie's deke, pokechecked Brendan Morrison and got a piece of Ryan Kesler's move to the backhand in the shootout. At the other end, Luongo stopped Sam Gagner's deke and watched as Raffi Torres fanned completely from the slot, but Hemsky made a strong move to his backhand and lifted the puck quickly and sharply over the sprawled goalie.
“We really can’t look at [this game] as too frustrating,” said Ryan Kesler, who was a force for Vancouver with three shots in just over 20 minutes of ice. “It’s not good to lose another home game, but at the same time, we got to look at the effort we had tonight.”
Edmonton was out shot 16-5 in the first period and 23-10 through 40 minutes, but Garon made great saves on a deflection by Alexandre Burrows and against Brad Isbister on a rebound late in the first period.
“I think they got great goaltending and I think they just played a solid, straight ahead game,” said Kesler. “We didn’t bury the chances when we had the opportunity and neither did they either.”
“It was two goaltenders on top of their game, and two teams who were working really hard out there,” said Alain Vigneault. “It was a hard fought game from both sides, I thought. We had 29 shots, 25 missed shots, and 10 blocked shots - we were trying to get a lot of pucks to their net. Give them a lot of credit – they did a good job of blocking and making us miss the net.”
When the Canucks were able to get pucks to Garon’s crease, the Oilers’ keeper was always able to get in front.
“It was good goaltending,” said Markus Naslund. “We had a couple shots that could’ve gone in.”
“Think we had a good effort again tonight – it was two desperate teams who want to win.”
Scored the game-winner in the shoot-out.
Saved 19 shots and made some tough saves to keep the Canucks in the game.
Saved 29 shots and kept the Canucks off the scoreboard.
The victory snapped a handful of streaks for both clubs. It was Edmonton's first over the Canucks in eight games dating back to Dec. 4, 2006, including the first two games of this season. It also was Vancouver's first loss (6-0-1) within the Northwest Division this season.
Luongo made 19 saves in regulation and overtime for the Canucks, who had a season-high three-game winning streak snapped.
Both goalies got some early help. Edmonton's Dick Tarnstrom hit the post 30 seconds in, and defenseman Willie Mitchell swept a puck off the goal line behind Luongo after Hemsky's one-timer from the blue line trickled through his pads less than 8 minutes later.
Garon also got some help from the post when Morrison ripped a shot over his shoulder less than 3 minutes into the game, with the puck caroming back out and off his goal mask before being cleared. Ryan Kesler also hit the seam of the post and cross bar behind him again with 10 seconds left in the second period.
Edmonton finally generated some offense in the third, outshooting the Canucks 9-4, including several great chances early. But Luongo robbed Shawn Horcoff twice from close range and gloved Tarnstrom's point shot on a power play.
Luongo got a glove on Andrew Cogliano's shot in overtime, and Garon stuffed Kesler alone in tight to force the shootout.
All the talk on press row surrounded Vigneault’s choice to send fourth-line forward Byron Ritchie over the boards in the shootout instead of a Swede.
“I was asking the goaltenders and the coaches,” explained Vigneault. “We’ve been working on that in the practices. Right now, they feel that they’ve got a list of four or five guys that they feel are our best, and that Louie agrees with. And right now Markus and the Twins aren’t on that list and Byron Ritchie is.”
It was the first time the Oilers won consecutive games since the first two of the season, and Garon was the story in both. He made 37 saves in a 4-2 win in Calgary on Saturday and was rewarded with consecutive starts for the first time since joining the Oilers this summer.
Notes: The Oilers were missing four defensemen because of injuries, and the Canucks were down three of their top six defenders. ... The Oilers called up G Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers from the AHL on Tuesday so he could dress as Garon's backup. Regular starting goalie Dwayne Roloson was sent back to Edmonton after the morning skate so he would be rested to start Thursday against Minnesota. ... Canucks LW Jeff Cowan is ready to return after missing 11 games with a hip injury, but with LW Taylor Pyatt playing through flu symptoms, there wasn't a place in the lineup for him.