EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Brock Boeser scored twice, including the winner, as the Vancouver Canucks beat the Edmonton Oilers 5-3 on Wednesday night.
Bo Horvat, Adam Gaudette, and rookie Nils Hoglander also scored for Vancouver in the first of two games in two nights between the teams. Braden Holtby made 28 saves for his first win as a Canuck.
“I think our team played a really good hockey game for our first game of the year,” Boeser said. “We’ve got to build off it.”
Kailer Yamamoto, Darnell Nurse and Adam Larsson replied for Edmonton. Mikko Koskinen stopped 30 shots.
It was a back and forth game in front of no fans and canned crowd noise at Rogers Place.
“Poor puck play and poor reads led to Grade A chances against,” Edmonton coach Dave Tippett said, “and if you give enough of them, they’re going to capitalize.”
The Canucks won despite not having forward J.T. Miller in the lineup. Miller, their top scorer from last season, and depth defenseman Jordie Benn had to sit out as per COVID-19 protocol.
Oilers captain McDavid, playing on his 24th birthday, was held scoreless but buzzed around the net, driving on Holtby relentlessly and drawing multiple penalties.
Oilers center Leon Draisaitl, the reigning Art Ross Trophy winner as the league’s top point-scorer last season, had one assist.
Boeser scored twice in the third period to seal the win as the Canucks took advantage of numerous Oilers defensive breakdowns.
“I’m feeling confident,” Boeser said. “I feel like my shot is back where it was in my first year.”
Vancouver opened the scoring with less than five minutes to play in the first period. Tanner Pearson, racing with the puck up the right wing, managed, just before getting hit by Zack Kassian at Edmonton’s blue line, to spin and put the puck on the tape of Horvat in the slot. Horvat skated in alone and shot the puck low stick side past Koskinen.
The Oilers tied the score early in the second. Draisaitl, off a turnover, fed the puck to Yamamoto who one-timed the puck from the slot into the top corner of the net.
Hoglander, the Swedish rookie, put Vancouver up 2-1 with less than three minutes to go in the second, on a rebound after Edmonton failed to clear the puck out of its own end.
“It feels good,” Hoglander said. “I think we played a good game, me, Horvat and Pearson together.”
The goals came in bunches in the third period, starting with Nurse’s wrist shot from the face-off circle just 10 seconds in.
Gaudette then scored on a cross-ice feed from Antoine Roussel to make it 3-2.
Less than two minutes later, Quinn Hughes, down on the ice near the blue line managed to backhand the puck to an open Boeser, who fired low and in for a 4-2 lead.
Then Larsson fired a slap shot from the top of the face-off circle through traffic and in to cut the lead to 4-3.
“I don’t think we expected a perfect game, but this was far from it,” Larsson said. “A couple breakdowns today cost us goals.”
Boeser then took a pass off the wall from Elias Pettersson to steam in on the right wing and fire the puck short-side over Koskinen’s shoulder.