PIC OF THE GAME
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EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) -The playoffs have already started in the Northwest Division.
Roberto Luongo made 33 saves for the Vancouver Canucks, who won their third in a row and cooled off the surging Edmonton Oilers with a 4-1 victory on Thursday night.
"I don't think we had a great game, but we did what we had to do," Canucks forward Brendan Morrison said. "We came into this game thinking that this was their season, and we treated them that way."
In addition to regulars scorers like Daniel Sedin and Taylor Pyatt netting goals, role players such as Trevor Linden and Matt Pettinger also found the back of the net.
"The teams that get timely goals from guys that don't usually get them are the teams that win," defenseman Willie Mitchell said. "Legends are made off that in the playoffs, and to be honest in the Northwest the playoffs are right now. Hopefully that kind of thing continues."
The Canucks have won six of eight and moved into a sixth place tie in the Western Conference, one point back of Northwest Division-leading Minnesota. Vancouver will face the Wild at home on Friday.
"It's yet another big game," Morrison said. "We always have tight games against Minny, chess matches."
Tom Gilbert had the lone goal for the Oilers, who had won 10 of 12, but were held 0-for-6 on the power play thanks to a 33-save effort from Roberto Luongo
"It was very disappointing, the way the game went," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. "I didn't think we played terribly.
"The four or five chances they had all night were high quality chances and it was just one of those nights where the puck was finding the back of the net in our end. We put a lot of shots at him at the other end and didn't have a lot to show for it."
Edmonton remained five points out of eighth place in the West but is still in the hunt. The Oilers will face eighth-place Colorado on Saturday.
Never looked flashy, but was solid as an oak making 33 saves to deal the Oilers a serious blow.
| Daniel Sedin
Adds a sharp new element to the Kesler-Burrows tandem. Another goal tonight.
A quiet night for the home side. Glencross was on of four Oilers who wasn't a minus, so he gets the nod.
"It's not as good a situation as we had hoped for and had in our power to create but there is still a Plan B and another scenario," MacTavish said. "We have to sweep somebody here and now we focus on Colorado."
The Canucks got a bit of a break to get the first goal 1:09 into the second period. Dwayne Roloson made the initial stop on Daniel Sedin
's shot only to have defenseman Gilbert inadvertently swept it into his own net.
Vancouver took a 2-0 lead late in the second when Pettinger scored off a 2-on-1 break.
The Canucks extended their lead 5 minutes into the third when Ryan Shannon dished a backhanded pass to Pyatt, who snapped in his 15th goal.
The Oilers finally broke Vancouver's shutout bid with 10 minutes remaining as Gilbert's point shot eluded Luongo, who was screened.
Vancouver went ahead 4-1 just 3 minutes later when Linden scored his second short-handed goal of the season.
Despite the bevy of fighting majors the last time these two teams met back on February 16th, Thursday night's game was relatively sedate - at least by Northwest standards.
The Oilers were whistled for just one penalty all game long - a hooking minor to Joni Pitkanen in the first - which the Canucks failed to score on.
did engage Edmonton tough-guy Zach Stortini early in the second after Daniel Sedin
had busted his lengthy scoring drought, but the pair tumbled to the ice before the scrap really caught fire.
The teams meet once more in the Canucks's second-last game of the season on April 3rd.
: The teams split the first six meetings this season with all three of Edmonton's wins coming in shootouts. ... Roloson, who backed up Mathieu Garon for 17 straight games, got his fourth straight start. ... The Canucks were without rookie LW Mason Raymond, injured in the previous game against Phoenix. Mason, who has a sprained knee, is expected to be out for four weeks. He was replaced by Ryan Shannon. ... Vancouver was already without defenseman Mattias Ohlund, Aaron Miller and Lukas Krajicek. ... The Oilers hit 306 man-games lost this season.