Jordan Schroeder returned to the Canucks lineup with a bang on Monday night with two goals in his first game in over three months. Unfortunately, the rest of the team failed to show up as Vancouver fell to the Edmonton Oilers for the first time this season in a 4-2 loss.
David Perron led the way for the Oilers with his second career hat trick. For what it's worth, Perron's first career hat trick also came against the Canucks when he was a member of the St. Louis Blues back in 2009.
The game started out a little chippy, to no one’s surprise. The first post-whistle scrum centered around Zack Kassian and Gazdic. The pair exchanged words during warm-ups out near center ice, so it’s only logical to think that the two would be looking for a reason to push each other around all night.
Roberto Luongo was tested early, stopping a 2-on-0 rush and stopping Taylor Hall in on the breakaway and snatching the rebound out of mid-air to keep things scoreless.
Moments later, the Oilers came up with a turnover in the neutral zone creating a 2-on-1 rush as a result. Luongo cheated to the right a little too much, leaving the net open for David Perron’s 20th goal of the year off a centering pass from Sam Gagner.
It wouldn’t be long until the Canucks evened things up. Three minutes later, after taking a hit along the boards, Jordan Schroeder managed to come up with the puck behind the net, wrapping it around and slipping it past Ilya Bryzgalov at a tough angle for his first goal of the season. Monday marked Schroeder’s first game back with the Canucks since October 19 when he went down with an ankle injury that needed surgery.
Believe it or not, the Canucks nearly scored on their first power play of the night. Daniel Sedin had a chance at a puck in front of the net sent in by Alex Edler, but wasn’t fully ready and couldn’t get the stick on it. Instead, it was the same old story we’ve become used to. Canucks go to the power play and can’t manage to get a single shot on net.
The Oilers struck shortrly thereafter, as Nail Yakupov jumped by Kevin Bieksa, tipping the puck back out in front of the net for Perron, who swatted home his second goal of the period to give Edmonton a 2-1 edge late in the opening period. Things went haywire when Kassian decided it would be a good idea to try and clear the puck blindly behind him. Edmonton came up with the turnover and made it count.
Shortly into the second period after killing off an Edmonton power play that carried over from the first period, the Canucks managed to tie things up thanks to, you guessed it, Mr. Jordan Schroeder. Put the puck on net and good things happen. What a concept, right? Schroeder’s shot took a fortunate deflection off Potter into the net. The best part of this was that it was the second time of the night that Schroeder used Potter to get a deflection into the net. Forget about having our own guys in front of the net, just make sure Potter is near the crease and we’re golden.
Ryan Kesler nearly scored a rare power play midway through the second period, deflecting a centering pass out of mid air on net. However, the puck clanked off the wrong side of the post to stay out of the net, keeping things tied at 2-2. Vancouver did at least manage a shot on goal during this advantage. Baby steps, right?
The Oilers wasted no time in jumping back out to the lead in the third period. Just two minutes in, After Hall fired in a shot towards the net, Jesse Joensuu found himself all alone in front of Luongo and all he had to do was wait for the pass from Ryan Smith to tip it in. The goal was Joensuu’s first in 15 games. There’s that whole, "put the puck on net and good things happen," narrative again.
Later in the third, Luongo made one of his more impressive saves of the year to keep the Canucks within one goal as he was forced to swat the puck out of the air while falling backwards. Since Vancouver wasn't managing any shots on net during the period, Luongo made sure to give all of us something to cheer about.
Soon after, Dan Hamhuis did his part to try and provide some kind of spark, picking a fight with Perron. See that strategy there? Take the only scorer off the ice away from Edmonton. The fight created overtime-like spacing on the ice as the teams went 4-on-4 for two minutes. Neither team would make anything of it though as Edmonton maintained their 3-2 lead halfway through the final period.
With just under six minutes, Chris Higgins gave the Canucks their best chance of the period, crashing in on the net, but coming up empty. Jannik Hansen also had a good chance on net moments earlier, but swung and missed like a little leaguer striking out at the plate.
Alex Burrows also had his chance at tying things up, but once again the post was not friendly, clanking off. Daniel Sedin then came crashing in at a loose puck in front of the net that slipped by Bryzgalov, creating total chaos and anarchy as every player in the area dove in the crease to try and either keep it out or knock it in depending on the color of their sweater. After a quick review, the call was confirmed that the puck never crossed the line.
Hamhuis had another great chance, setting up perfectly off a pass from Daniel Sedin, but Bryzgalov managed to adjust and make the stop. Suddenly this team had life in the final minutes of the game. Unfortunately, Perron had other ideas, throwing the puck on net to complete the hat trick and seal the victory.
The Canucks simply fell flat in the third period, with only a brief sign of life late in the game. The forecheck also struggled late, allowing the Oilers to grasp control of the game and steal a win on the road. Monday's game marked just the fourth time of the year that Edmonton managed to string together consecutive wins. The last time the Oilers won back-to-back games was on December 23 and 27 against the Jets and Flames.
Vancouver will have Tuesday to regroup before taking on the Chicago Blackhawks at Rogers Arena on Wednesday night to wrap up the four-game homestand before heading off for an east coast road trip. Wednesday's game will also mark the last home game for the Canucks before the 18-day break for the Olympics.