The cynical view of the Edmonton Oilers: Take away their lethal power play and you’ve got a pretty good team at even strength, not a great one. That point of view proved valid on Wednesday night at Rogers Arena as the Vancouver Canucks kept the visitors off-balance and dominated 5-on-5 for a 8-1 victory. Brock Boeser led the way with a four goal night that included a natural hat trick.
The Canucks were also the better power play team.
It’s only one game, but it was a dandy for Vancouver, who’s forecheck resembled something out of the Seattle Kraken playbook. It was effectively relentless. Their D-zone coverage was equally responsible.
Canucks 1st Period
After some early chances from the Oilers, for defenceman Brett Kulak and Vancouver native Evander Kane to name a couple, the Canucks calmed down and gradually came to life with their forecheck.
Using the momentum following the first successful penalty kill of the season against the NHL’s best power play, Conor Garland quickly snuck hard to the net, controlled a pass, and backhanded the puck past Oilers goalie Jack Campbell to give the home team an even strength goal at 8:06. It was a beautiful feed from the left point by Elias Pettersson.
Taking advantage of momentum, Brock Boeser made it 2-0 Vancouver 3:21 later with a wrist shot that beat “Soupy” gloveside. The goal came directly off Phil Di Giuseppe’s successful forecheck in the left wing corner. He found J.T. Miller, who slid a pass into the left wing circle where Boeser made no mistake.
That’s how the period would end, with Vancouver outshooting Edmonton 10-6.
Boeser would poke home another one and get lucky on a third goal to complete the natural hat trick. When Miller’s rebound attempt popped in the air near the left post, Boeser charged in to knock it out of the air with a shovel move to give Vancouver a 3-0 lead.
It was 4-0 on the power play when a cross ice pass from Pettersson meant for Miller on the far boards went in off Boeser’s ankle. It gave him three consecutive goals. Campbell had no chance on the crazy carom, but despite that, it was the end of his night, replaced between the pipes by Stuart Skinner at 7:30 of the period.
Not long after that, Canucks forward Dakota Joshua took an ill-advised hooking call in the offensive zone, squashing momentum and giving the OIlers a power play chance and a goal. Leon Draisaitl ripped one home at 8:20 from near the right wing goal line on a one-timer.
The Canucks bounced back and continued to work. Pettersson added his third point of the night with his first goal of the season with a wrister from the right point that found its way past traffic. 5-1.
The Canucks just needed to keep things going, not change anything, and ride it out. They did plenty more than that.
Boeser took advantage of another fortunate puck hop as a shot hit Oilers D-man Evan Bouchard in the shin pad and bounced to a wide open Boeser just above the crease. 6-1.
After a frustration cross-checking call to Draisaitl, Miller went top shelf with a wrister past a Boeser screen to make it 7-1.
Later, new Canucks forward Sam Lafferty powered his way into the Edmonton zone and found Dakota Joshua who banged the puck in to make it 8-1.
Shots on goal for the game: Vancouver with the edge 33-27. Power plays: Canucks: 3-for-6, Oilers: 1-for-3
Canucks 3 Stars:
1) Brock Boeser – A natural hat trick and another goal later sends him on his way to potentially breaking the 30-goal mark for the first time.
2) Elias Pettersson – Connor who? This was an all-world performance by the Canucks top centre.
3) J.T. Miller – Interchangeable star with ‘Petey’. How about a five point night with a goal to start the season.
Wednesday Morning …
— Canucks Opener: Facts And What To Look For In Game 1