It took a while, but Dallas Eakins has posted two consecutive wins, which he has rarely done in his first season as coach of the Edmonton Oilers.
David Perron helped his coach’s cause by scoring three goals as the Oilers doubled the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 on Monday night.
“It was a real good road game,” said Eakins, enjoying a rare occasion to offer praise to his forwards, defence and goaltender alike.
The Oilers (17-32-6) earned consecutive wins after six straight losses while the Canucks (27-18-9) suffered their second loss in the past three games.
This is only the fourth time this season, and the first time since December, that the Oilers have won two games in a row.
Edmonton also posted its first win in four tries against Vancouver this season.
Eakins was especially grateful for the tight win after the Oilers were blanked 4-0 in their last visit to Vancouver in December.
“We’re slowly getting stronger and it’s good for the group,” said Eakins.
Jesse Joensuu’s goal at 2:20 of the third period secured the win before Perron completed his hat trick with an empty netter with just over a minute left.
“You don’t want to give David Perron two much room out there,” said Eakins. “He can hurt you quickly. He’s a deadly shooter and he was able to get freed up a couple times tonight.”
Perron now has 22 goals on the season, offering a beacon of hope to an Oilers squad that has often played in a fog like the one that engulfed parts of Vancouver earlier Monday. But with the Oilers destined to miss the playoffs, he hoped the win would serve as a catalyst for success in the more distant future.
“We have to be able to look them straight in the eyes and tell (the Canucks) to go away in not always the nicest way,” he said. “We need to be able to play with these guys in other years, and it starts right now. We need to set it up for next year.
“The last four or five games are the way we need to play and we are going to get a lot of points if we do that.”
The loss spoiled a strong effort from Jordan Schroeder, who had the two goals for Vancouver. They were his first since March 21, 2013.
With just over four minutes remaining in the game, Edmonton goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov denied Schroeder a hat trick, stopping his shot from the slot. The Edmonton goaltender then lay back on the loose puck and prevented Daniel Sedin from jamming it in as players from both teams crowded the crease.
Schroeder excelled in his first game since he was sidelined Oct. 19 with a fractured ankle. Before hurting his ankle, Schroeder sustained a broken foot in the pre-season and spent the off-season rehabilitating from shoulder surgery.
“Some hockey gods repaid me tonight,” said Schroeder.
“It was fun to get to play again and getting some minutes on the top line there, that was fun. It felt good. It’s disappointing we didn’t get the win, but we made some mental mistakes, a few turnovers and (they) cost us the game.”
Acting Vancouver head coach Mike Sullivan called, “Schroeder an infusion of energy,” but lamented his top players’ inability to do likewise — and fail to keep pace with the Los Angeles Kings as they also won Monday.
One night after scoring five goals in a win over Phoenix, the Canucks continued their offensive struggles.
Daniel Sedin, clearly missing his injured brother Henrik, has now gone 13 games without a goal. Alex Burrows remains scoreless in the 22 games that he has played in an injury-riddled season.
“It’s hard to win unless your best players are your best players,” said Sullivan.
Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo lived up to his reputation as one of the Canucks’ best players as both teams were playing the second games of back-to-back contests against different teams. Although it’s customary for the starting goaltender to rest the second night, Luongo played his second game in two nights while Bryzgalov replaced Ben Scrivens following his first win as an Oiler.
Luongo finished with 16 saves while Bryzgalov posted 25. The Canucks were blanked on two power plays while the Oilers failed to score on three.
Perron put the Oilers ahead 2-1 at 17:34 of the first as he jammed in a loose puck from in front after Vancouver defenceman Dan Hamhuis knocked it away from a driving Nail Yakupov. The goal came after yet another Canucks giveaway.
Schroeder drew the Canucks even at 2:39 of the second period as he put the puck in off Edmonton defenceman Corey Potter’s skate. Joenssu gave the Oilers a 3-2 lead in the third period as he put in Ryan Smyth’s pass from behind the net before Perron’s empty netter gave Eakins a rare chance to celebrate consecutive wins — without getting too excited.
“We know we have a very long way to go,” said Eakins.
Notes: Winger Dale Weise, who has two points in his last three games, was scratched as a result of Schroeder’s return. a Edmonton captain Andrew Ference was sidelined with a head injury suffered Sunday against Nashville. Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin remained sidelined with an upper-body problem. a The Canucks wore dark green camouflage jerseys in the warm-up in tribute to Canada’s Armed Forces. Winger David Booth also wore a similar green camouflage baseball cap bearing a 1980s-era Canucks logo. Booth returned to the lineup after sitting out Sunday’s win over Phoenix as a healthy scratch. a Joensuu is one game away from 100 for his career. a Canucks coach John Tortorella missed the fourth game of his 15-day suspension for storming the Calgary Flames dressing room area Jan. 25.