After loss, Oilers get quick rematch with Canucks

EDMONTON — In the aftermath of the Oilers’ 5-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks in their season opener on Wednesday, Edmonton coach Dave Tippett had some pointed words for his charges.

As blessed as the Oilers are offensively, their recurring bugaboo — porous defensive play — was front and center in the home defeat. Tippett expects it to be addressed in time for the Thursday night rematch in Edmonton.

“Poor puck play and poor reads led to grade-A chances against. Give enough of them and they’re going to capitalize,” a seething Tippett said. “If we want to be a better team, a harder team to play against, those have to come out of our game.”

While Edmonton’s dynamic duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl combined for just one point — a Draisaitl assist — they were among the many players guilty of glaring defensive miscues that led to Vancouver’s offensive onslaught.

It’s a long list of Oilers players who shirked their defensive duties at inopportune times, and the Canucks were more than happy to take advantage.

“I don’t think we expected a perfect game, but this was far from it,” Edmonton defenseman Adam Larsson said. “There are certain areas we have to get a lot better. In those areas, it cost us a goal every time.”

He added, “We’re lucky we get to play the same team tomorrow, and I don’t think anybody’s happy about their performance today.”

The Canucks shone in their victory, which displayed their bevy of young offensive talent. Brock Boeser scored twice, rookie Nils Hoglander tallied in his NHL debut, defenseman Quinn Hughes netted a pair of assists, Elias Pettersson made a brilliant pass to set up a Boeser goal, and captain Bo Horvat notched one goal and one assist. Of Vancouver’s goal-scorers in the opener, Horvat is the oldest at 25.

Despite being such a young team — and missing key veteran J.T. Miller, who led the Canucks in goals and points last season — the Canucks didn’t panic when they saw a pair of leads disappear.

“I’m happy with our game,” Vancouver coach Travis Green said. “That’s a good start to the season. I like how we responded. Obviously when they scored, we bounced back. It’s a nice win.”

Boeser was the difference-maker at the biggest moment by scoring a pair of third-period goals. It was a big boost for the winger, who scored 29 goals in his rookie season of 2017-18 and 26 in his sophomore campaign but only 16 a season ago.

“He’s worked on his shot, his release,” Green said. “The second goal, I don’t know if he scores that a year ago. It’s not just the goals. I thought his two-way game was solid. He’s learned the importance of different areas of the rink.”

Boeser, however, was more interested in looking forward to Thursday’s tilt.

“Our team played a really good hockey game for our first game of the year. We’ve gotta build off it,” he said.

Besides, it’s a good bet the Oilers will look for a more complete and focused outing.

“It comes down to us, a lot of those goals were mistakes by us,” Edmonton forward Kailer Yamamoto said. “They’re correctable.

“It’s the first game. We haven’t played in a few months. It’s going to take a little bit of time, but it’s coming along. I think we’ll be good.”

–Field Level Media

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