Canucks spring an early leak in 4-1 pre-season setback to Oilers
Roberto Luongo surrenders four fast goals as Vancouver drops second straight exhibition game
Tyler Pitlick of the Edmonton Oilers checks Vancouver Canucks' defenceman Jason Garrison during the second period of Wednesday's National Hockey League pre-season game at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.
Photograph by: Darryl Dyck, The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — Take a deep breath, Canuck fans, and repeat after me: It’s only the pre-season. It’s only the pre-season.
There, feel better?
The real National Hockey League games don’t start for another two weeks, thankfully, as the Canucks haven’t shown much in their first two pre-season games.
They dropped a 4-1 decision Wednesday at Rogers Arena to the Edmonton Oilers in a game that was over shortly after it began.
The result really doesn’t matter, of course. More concerning for the Canucks was the fact that most of their youngsters, who are being given long looks in the pre-season, really haven’t shown much.
Winger Nicklas Jensen, who was so good during the rookie camp in Penticton, was nearly invisible Wednesday. Bo Horvat and Hunter Shinkaruk, the highly touted first-rounders from this summer’s draft, weren’t much better.
Shinkaruk and Horvat both finished the night minus-two and had just one shot between them (by Horvat). Jensen was held without a shot.
Brendan Gaunce, who looked ordinary in Penticton, has been the best of the youngsters so far. Gaunce, Vancouver’s first pick in the 2012 draft, scored his second goal in as many games Wednesday.
“I liked him, I thought he was steady today,” said Canuck assistant Glen Gulutzan, who ran the bench Wednesday. “He is a big body out there. He is a good young player. Playing left wing, too, I thought that line did a real good job.”
The kids are running out of chances to impress new coach John Tortorella, who again watched the game from the press box area. Only four pre-season games remain and Tortorella is on record as saying he wants to use the final two to dress the team that will start the regular season on Oct. 3 in San Jose, Calif.
The Oilers had a 4-0 lead before the first period was 13 minutes old. Goalie Roberto Luongo, making his first appearance since being blindsided by the Cory Schneider trade, had a miserable start as Jordan Eberle beat him on a wraparound on an Edmonton power play at 4:49 of the first. Eberle actually swept the puck into Luongo’s pads and Luongo then dragged the puck over the line.
Martin Marincin made it 2-0 when he beat Luongo short side with a wrist shot at the 7:07 mark and 31 seconds later David Perron scored from a sharp angle to make it 3-0.
“I’m obviously not very pleased with the way things went,” Luongo said. “The good news is it’s all little details of the game that could be easily fixed. I just have to keep working like an animal out there, keep improving every day and make sure you just build up to being ready opening night.”
After Jesse Joensuu made it 4-0 at 12:24 of the first, the Canucks got on the board when Gaunce skated into the crease area and chipped a rebound past Oiler goalie Devan Dubnyk at the 13:06 mark.
“I think my performance was like the team’s,” said Gaunce, who skated most of the night with Mike Santorelli and Brandon DeFazio. “You have to win games to make an impact. A goal is good, but in a losing cause it doesn’t really mean much.”
What was disturbing from a Vancouver standpoint was the fact there was little pushback from the Canucks when they fell behind early. None of the players fighting for a job stepped up to stir things up. That “bite” Tortorella is looking for was nowhere to be found.
“Sometimes the game goes that way,” Gulutzan said. “The game just didn’t take on that life. Sometimes they do and get crazy and sometimes they don’t. It just never went that way.”
The Canucks were much better in the second period, but had nothing to show for it. They outshot the Oilers 10-4 but could not beat Dubnyk.
Rookie Joacim Eriksson replaced Luongo in goal in the third period and stopped all nine shots he faced.
The Canucks had to play most of the last two periods with just four defencemen after losing John Negrin and Patrick Mullen to undisclosed injuries. That meant big minutes for Kevin Bieksa, Jason Garrison, Chris Tanev and Peter Andersson. Santorelli dropped back to play a few shifts on the back end.
“That’s tough, your first game for those guys and we were down to four for 40 minutes, so it’s a lot of ice,” Gulutzan said. “I thought Santorelli did a good job. We put him back there on the power play and couple of times on PK.”
Garrison logged 33:03 of ice time, while Bieksa had 31:04.
CHIP SHOTS: Centre Brad Richardson had a great night in the faceoff circle, where he won eight of nine draws ... The Canucks have Thursday off, then they travel to Edmonton for their third of six pre-season games on Saturday.
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