NHL

Hamhuis and Hansen spark Canucks to victory over Oilers

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The Canadian Press
10/6/2013 2:19:00 AM
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VANCOUVER -- When the Vancouver Canucks hired John Tortorella, performances like Saturday night's were probably what they envisioned.

Fast, aggressive forecheck and relentless puck pressure in all three zones are hallmarks of the fiery coach's style, and it was all on display against the overmatched Edmonton Oilers.

Dan Hamhuis and Jannik Hansen scored 18 seconds apart late in the first period as the Canucks cruised to a 6-2 victory over the Oilers in Vancouver's home opener.

"That's the way we want to play. That's the way we want to continue to play and we want to enforce that on other teams," said Canucks centre Ryan Kesler, who scored in the second period. "We want to do that every night. We want to win that way."

Daniel Sedin had a goal and an assist, and Brad Richardson and Jason Garrison -- into an empty net -- also scored for the Canucks (1-1-0) as Roberto Luongo made 21 saves.

Henrik Sedin picked up three assists as Vancouver rebounded from Thursday's season-opening 4-1 road loss to the San Jose Sharks in impressive fashion.

"We were aggressive, we put a lot of pressure on their (defence)," said Henrik Sedin. "We didn't really play this way for the last couple of years, we were sitting back a little bit more and played a little more on the safe side."

Tortorella, who replaced the fired Alain Vigneault in the off-season, has answered repeated questions about the players' ability to adapt to his system. The Canucks showed spurts in their season-opening road loss to San Jose but Saturday's performance was closer to what the coach envisioned.

"We were pretty consistent tonight in our attack," said Tortorella. "(I'm) pretty satisfied with that part of the game."

Luongo, back as Vancouver's No. 1 goalie after the the Canucks traded Cory Scheinder to the New Jersey Devils, had a good view of his team's domination of Edmonton.

"That's one of the best games I've seen this team play in a long time," said Luongo. "It was 60 minutes. It was hard. We sustained pressure the whole game."

Jeff Petry and Boyd Gordon had the goals for the Oilers (0-2-0). Devan Dubnyk allowed five goals on 31 shots before being replaced in the second period by Jason LaBarbera. The Edmonton backup finished with 12 saves.

Oilers rookie head coach Dallas Eakins has spent the pre-season trying to shake the team's image of being in rebuild mode, stressing that the time to win is now.

It's clearly going to take some time.

"Old habits die hard," Eakins said. "I was encouraged with certain things going through the pre-season. I was more encouraged even though we let that game get away against Winnipeg (a 5-4 season-opening home loss).

"Tonight we are back to square one. This isn't going to be an easy process here. We will dig our heels in and continue on."

After the teams exchanged goals in the game's first four minutes, the Canucks carried the play for the rest of the period, with Hamhuis and Hansen beating Dubnyk in quick succession late to give Vancouver a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes.

Hamhuis made it 2-1 with a shot from just inside the Edmonton blue-line that took a deflection off Petry's stick with 1:33 left in the period.

The fans at Rogers Arena had barely sat down from celebrating that goal when Hansen, who took the spot of the injured Alexandre Burrows on Vancouver's top line, beat Dubnyk from the slot to give his team a 3-1 edge at 18:45 as the Canucks closed out the period with a 22-8 advantage on the shot clock.

Vancouver then made it 4-1 on the power play at 7:21 of the second on a picture-perfect passing play. Alexander Edler fed Henrik Sedin, who in turn found his brother Daniel with a no-look spin-o-rama pass in front of a helpless Dubnyk.

The Vancouver onslaught continued at 13:56 when Kesler ripped a shot past Dubnyk from the top of the faceoff circle with the teams playing 4-on-4. That spelled the end of the night for the Edmonton goaltender, who was replaced by LaBarbera.

"We shot a lot tonight. It was good to see. We had a lot of second and third opportunities. When you shoot that much you're going to get six goals," said Kesler, who finished with nine shots. "You shoot that much, you play that much with the puck, you're going to tire out the other team."

Gordon gave Edmonton some life when he scored off an odd-man rush at 15:23 but the Oilers still trailed by three after two periods and wouldn't get any closer in the third before Garrison iced it with a short-handed empty-net goal at 18:16.

The Oilers got on the board first at 1:58 of the opening period when Petry beat Luongo five-hole from a sharp angle with both teams down a man.

But the lead didn't last long as Richardson, who joined the Canucks as a free agent in the off-season, raced in on a short-handed breakaway and beat Dubnyk between the pads to tie the score at 3:42 before Hamhuis and Hansen scored late in the period.

"We really did come out OK," said Oilers left-winger Taylor Hall, who was minus-4. "We scored the first goal. They scored right after that and we just kind of fell off the wagon there."

Notes: Garrison also added an assist. ... Burrows is expected to miss a couple of weeks after breaking a bone in his foot blocking a shot in the loss to San Jose. ... David Booth took Hansen's spot on the second line with Kesler and Chris Higgins. ... Edmonton lost left-winger Jesse Joensuu to a back injury in the first period. Eakins said he will be re-evaluated Sunday. ... The Oilers were without centres Sam Gagner (broken jaw) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (shoulder surgery). Edmonton expects to have Nugent-Hopkins back for Monday's home game against the New Jersey Devils. Canucks right-winger Zack Kassian served the fifth game of his eight-game suspension for the hit that broke Gagner's jaw.

Dan Hamhuis Brad Richardson (Photo: Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
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