PIC OF THE GAME
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EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) –You can forgive the Canucks if they seemed distracted against the Oilers. Hard to be anything else following Friday’s tragic news that Taylor Pyatt’s fiancée, Carly Bragnalo, had been killed in a car crash.
It doesn’t make Saturday’s 5-3 loss any easier to swallow, but certainly easier to fathom for a team that had a chance to move two-points clear of the rival Flames in the race for the Northwest crown.
The Canucks fell behind just 27 seconds into the game, and despite three comeback bids, couldn’t quite keep it focused long enough to pull even in a see-saw affair.
Sam Gagner had a goal and two assists for the desperate Oilers while Dwayne Roloson made 43 saves to keep Edmonton’s slim playoff hopes alive.
Mason Raymond, Kyle Wellwood and Alex Burrows scored for Vancouver. The Canucks missed a chance to move two points ahead of Calgary for the Northwest Division lead.
"At the end of the day, their goaltender played a real solid game," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. "In my mind he was the difference in this game. One thing that was uncharacteristic was whenever we got close we made mistakes that we don't usually make and they found a way to put it in the back of our net, so they made us pay for our mistakes and we weren't able to do the same thing."
Ales Kotalik, Denis Grebeshkov, Ales Hemsky and Sheldon Souray scored to help the Oilers snap a three-game losing streak.
"It just feels good to win a game and to get some smiles around here," Oilers captain Ethan Moreau said.
"We just want those last two games against Calgary to mean something More for our own psyche than anything else."
Edmonton is three points behind St. Louis and Nashville in the race for the final Western Conference playoff spot.
"It was a big win, for sure," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish after his 300th career win. "It buys us a little time and buys us a little hope and that's all we could ask for going into the game tonight."
Kotalik opened the scoring 27 seconds into the first period, picking up a rebound on Shawn Horcoff's shot and stuffing it past Roberto Luongo
The Oilers made it 2-0 midway through the second.
Gagner's wide shot bounced off the boards to Grebeshkov and he was able to hook the puck in while lying on his back after being knocked down in front of the net.
Quashed the Canucks momentum with a TJ Oshie-like solo dash to make it 3-1 early in the 3rd.
Faced 46 shots and gave up just three goals. He was the best goalie in Edmonton Saturday.
Played like a horse. Set up Raymond's goal and created all kind of problems for Edmonton down low.
The Canucks finally got a goal 7 minutes into the third when Mats Sundin sent a backhand to Raymond in front of the net and he was somehow able to stuff in it between Roloson and the post.
The Oilers regained the two-goal cushion midway through the third on Gagner's highlight-reel goal. He danced past a pair of defenders, then deked Luongo with a backhander to make it 3-1.
Vancouver pulled within one again with 7 minutes when Burrows scored on a breakaway. Roloson made the initial save, but Burrows was able to tuck in his own rebound for his 28th goal of the season.
But just 2 minutes later, Edmonton struck again as Souray earned his 50th point of the season with a power-play blast.
The Canucks cut the lead to one once more with just 1:37 to go on Wellwood's power- play goal, but Hemsky countered with an empty-net goal.
Both teams finished 1-for-5 on the power play, though the Canucks struggled with the man advantage throughout the game and only managed a goal 6-on-4.
Notes: The teams spilt the season series 3-3. ... Taylor Pyatt was not with the Canucks after returning home to Thunder Bay, Ontario. His fiancee died in a car crash in Jamaica this week.