Oilers slip past Canucks in pre-season action
The Edmonton Oilers found plenty of ways to lose last season, but they started a new campaign by finding a way to win.
Greg Stewart's power-play goal with 7:18 remaining in the third period gave Edmonton a 3-2 pre-season victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night.
The goal came after the Canucks tied the game on a power-play goal by Daniel Sedin and a short-handed effort by Peter Schaefer.
"It feels good," veteran defenceman Ryan Whitney said after springing Stewart with a pinpoint pass through the neutral zone.
"When you're playing a scrimmage against each other, regular-season game or exhibition, you just want to win, especially the way we did.
"We don't want to give up leads, that's something you don't want to be getting used to, but getting that third goal, that's good for us."
Whitney, who came over to the Oilers last March from the Anaheim Ducks for Lubomir Visnovsky, spotted Stewart as he came off the bench.
Stewart, a Kitchener, Ont., native who played 26 games with the Montreal Canadiens over three seasons, beat Canuck goalie Cory Schneider with a shot over his right shoulder.
It was Edmonton's first pre-season game while Vancouver iced a stronger lineup after losing a pair of split-squad contests to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night.
The Oilers finished with the NHL's worst record last season at 27-47-8 but Whitney, a Bostonian who drew assists on all three Oiler goals, said things are changing for the young team.
"It was just good the way we played," he said. "You could tell it was a little different than the way we played last year.
"It's pretty cool to really be structured and everyone kind of knowing what we're doing."
Edmonton coach Tom Renney, who moved behind the bench after Pat Quinn was given a front-office job, said Whitney was guilty of a couple of giveaways but made up for them.
"He sprung some people," Renney said. "He was a real general back there and that's what he's going to have to be like for us."
Prospects Ben Ondrus and Chris Vande Velde each had a goal and an assist for the Oilers.
Both scores came against netminder Roberto Luongo, who is in the first season of a 12-year, US$64 million contract. He stopped 23 of 25 shots over two periods.
Daniel Sedin scored on an early third-period power play when he knocked Henrik Sedin's centring pass out of the air and behind Devan Dubnyk, who had replaced starter Martin Gerber.
Schaefer, invited to the Canucks' training camp on a professional tryout, blasted a rising 40-foot shot off Dubnyk's glove to tie the game.
Gerber, who played in the KHL last season, stopped all 14 shots he faced.
Notes: Edmonton sat out Taylor Hall, the top choice in the June entry draft. He's expected to play Thursday in Edmonton against the Tampa Bay Lightning. ... Also not in the Oiler lineup was Magnus Paajarvi, another left-winger who was the 10th overall pick in the draft.