Kassian, Luongo frustrate the Oilers in Edmonton

Big road team without key figures for Vancouver

Who need a head coach or a leading scorer when you have Zack Kassian?

Of course, it doesn’t hurt when you’re playing the NHL’s punching bag for nearly the past decade – the Edmonton Oilers.

The Canucks strolled into Edmonton, got excellent goaltending from Roberto Luongo and did just enough to edge the Oilers 2-1 on Tuesday.

Easier said than done, especially considering the Canucks were playing without the former ironman Henrik Sedin and the angriest coach in hockey John Tortorella.

Goal scoring is still an issue and the power play continued to look abysmal but a win is a win. Here are a few of the guys who deserve praise for Vancouver’s second straight win.

Van City did just enough to edge the Oilers 2-1 on Tuesday

Van City did just enough to edge the Oilers 2-1 on Tuesday

Zack Kassian

If only Kassian could play against the Oilers every game. He was a force out there all evening, scored the eventual game winner and managed to annoy several players in the copper and blue.

But it was his restraint that really impressed me. Luke Gazdic was trying to push Kassian’s buttons for most of the game but he wouldn’t bite – and it was the right thing for Kassian to do. The game was close and it’s simply not a good trade-off for Vancouver.

Instead of taking dumb penalties and engaging goons in brawls, Kassian used his brain (for once) and buried a howitzer after sneaking in from a line change. I find Torts as entertaining as anyone but I think having him away from the bench for a little bit might be the best thing for Kassian. He’s playing with confidence and looks like he’s having a lot of fun out there.

Roberto Luongo

Everyone’s favourite Twitter user continued his strong play this season and seems to be strengthening his argument to start for Team Canada in a few weeks. Luongo stopped 21 of 22 shots and robbed several of the Oilers young stars.

Edmonton’s only goal was a pretty questionable one, as Sam Gagner was basically shoved into Luongo and he couldn’t get back in position in time. He was also the Canucks best penalty killer (yet again) and turned aside a number of good chances on an Oilers power play that looked pretty dangerous at times.

Kellan Lain

The really big guy had one of the most memorable debuts in Canucks history on Saturday and followed that up by opening the scoring in game two. Sure, he only played a little more than five minutes but I actually really liked the Lain/Sestito/Weise combo.

That line dominated a few shifts, especially in the first period. Now, let’s not get too excited because it’s the Oilers but it’s pretty encouraging to see Lain come in and contribute. His goal was nothing flashy but he knew to get to the net and only good things can happen.

He’s got size and it should be fun to see his progress in the next few weeks.

Like I mentioned earlier, let’s not plan the parade anytime soon but picking up two points without Torts, Henrik and Mike Santorelli is something Vancouver can hold its hat on. The Canucks next welcome the Nashville Predators to Rogers Arena on Thursday night. Face-off is set for 7 p.m. on Sportsnet Pacific.

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About Ben Lypka

Straight outta South Central Delta, BC, Ben's been a sports nut for as long as he can remember. With experience covering the Olympic Games and reporting on sporting events in BC and Alberta, he hopes to bring a unique perspective to the NWSB! You can catch him on twitter too! Connect with Ben today!
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