VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Ken Hitchcock wants Oilers fans to brace for a wild ride.
Edmonton’s coach thinks games will get tighter throughout the second half of the season and look more like his team’s 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks in a shootout Wednesday night.
“You’re going to be in a battle and there’s going to be a lot of emotional times. And for me, if you’re a fan of hockey, you’re going to love this,” Hitchcock said. “If you’re just looking for wins, you’re going to go through a roller-coaster ride.
“But if you’re looking for great hockey with people pouring everything in it, you’re going to be looking at this for the next 40 games.”
Alex Chiasson scored in the fifth round of a shootout to win it.
Jujhar Khaira and captain Connor McDavid scored in the first period for the Oilers, who won consecutive games for the first time since early December. They lost their two previous matchups with the Canucks.
“It’s a tough building to play in. We’ve always had struggles,” McDavid said. “At least we were able to take advantage of it and get the two points.”
Mikko Koskinen stopped 20 shots before denying all five Canucks attempts in the tiebreaker.
Brandon Sutter and Markus Granlund had the goals for Vancouver. Jacob Markstrom made 28 saves.
Chiasson said watching teammate Leon Draisaitl’s shootout attempt helped him read Markstrom.
“I thought if I could come with a little bit of speed and go just above (his glove). It worked out,” Chiasson said.
The right wing believes the Oilers can take a lot from tight games.
“We’ve got to learn how to play in these types of games, make good decisions, play until we have to,” said Chiasson, who won a Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals last season. “I thought tonight was a good example of making good decisions and building our game as it went on. Even though we had ups and downs, we kept going. And that’s what we need.”
Sutter was happy with the way his team played against the Oilers, despite the result.
“It’s fun hockey to watch and a little more nerve-wracking to play, but I like our game tonight,” he said.
“It was a grinding game, kind of that playoff feel against teams that are fighting for it and that’s what they are going to be like down the stretch, so I thought we played really well.”
Edmonton opened the scoring 7:35 into the game with a short-handed goal.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins picked off the puck in his own end and sent it to Khaira in the neutral zone. He took a spinning wrist shot from the hash marks and beat Markstrom on the far side.
“It was one of those things where it just kind of presented itself,” Khaira said. “I need to be more of a shooter, so I’m just trying to focus on that right now. It’s nice when it pays off.”
Sutter responded for the Canucks 78 seconds later, firing a shot from the top of the faceoff circle for a power-play goal.
A fight between Vancouver’s Antoine Roussel and Edmonton’s Matt Benning set the stage for the third goal of the night. Roussel was handed a double-minor for the tussle while Benning was assessed a two-minute penalty, giving the Oilers their second power play.
McDavid capitalized with 57 seconds left in the period, streaking into the Vancouver zone alone and putting a laser of a shot around defenseman Chris Tanev and past Markstrom.
Vancouver tied it again midway through the second. Tim Schaller dug the puck out behind the Edmonton net and chipped it to Granlund in the slot. The center got off a quick one-timer for his eighth goal of the season.
Ben Hutton appeared to score another power-play goal for the Canucks late in the second, but Edmonton challenged the play, saying Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen was offside. After a video review, officials agreed and the goal was overturned.
Virtanen nearly won the game on a breakaway with 20 seconds to go in the third, but couldn’t beat Koskinen.
Darnell Nurse swiped the puck away from Edmonton’s crease halfway through overtime to keep the Oilers in the game. The play resulted in an Oilers rush, and Draisaitl put a shot into Markstrom’s logo.
“I thought for sure we’d score for sure twice and then next thing I know, I couldn’t believe they didn’t score. Overtime was really exciting,” Hitchcock said.
NOTES: McDavid extended his point streak to six games. He has six goals and three assists during that stretch and sits fourth in the NHL’s scoring race with 70 points on the season. … Vancouver traded defenseman Michael Del Zotto to the Anaheim Ducks for Luke Schenn and a 2020 seventh-round draft pick. Canucks coach Travis Green said the deal frees up a spot on Vancouver’s roster.
Oilers: Begin a three-game homestand Saturday against Calgary.
Canucks: Host the Buffalo Sabres on Friday.
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