Puljujarvi, Maroon lead Oilers to 5-2 win over Canucks
EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Jesse Puljujarvi’s decision to spend his time off playing with Edmonton kids on an outdoor rink seems to have paid off.
Puljujarvi had a goal and two assists, Patrick Maroon scored twice and the Edmonton Oilers had a strong showing in their return from a weeklong break, defeating the Vancouver Canucks 5-2 on Saturday night.
Jujhar Khaira and Leon Draisaitl also scored for the Oilers, who have won three in a row and are 9-2 against Pacific Division opponents this season. Puljujarvi set a career high with his three points.
“It was a fun night and a good win,” said the 19-year-old Finn, selected fourth overall by Edmonton in the 2016 draft. “I think we all played well as a team, as did our line.
“Having the week rest, I feel 100 percent right now. I feel great. I got a little confidence on that outdoor rink.”
Oilers captain Connor McDavid said Puljujarvi is just starting to tap his potential, with 14 points in 30 games this season.
“The sky is as tall as he wants it to be,” McDavid said. “He’s big, skates well, is confident, has a great shot. ... But I think it all goes back to his size. He’s 6-foot-4, still young, trying to (grow) into his body. He’ll be that solid-on-his-feet, good puck-battle guy.”
Daniel Sedin and Brandon Sutter had the goals for the Canucks, who won their previous two games.
“We gave them odd-man rushes and those are skilled players, they’re going to score if we give them enough chances,” Sedin said. “That’s what happened tonight. It’s too bad, we battled back to make it 2-2 and they get one at the end of the second. That’s a tough one, for sure.”
Edmonton scored on the first shot of the game 1:25 in when Maroon got his 12th of the season. He made a steal in the Vancouver zone and dished off to McDavid, who promptly sent the puck back to Maroon for an easy tap-in past Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom.
Vancouver had a good chance midway through the opening period, but Brock Boeser was stopped on a 2-on-0 breakaway by Oilers goalie Cam Talbot.
Edmonton made it 2-0 with two minutes left in the first, as Puljujarvi picked off a pass and sent it in front to Khaira, who scored on a backhand.
The Canucks got on the board with a power-play goal early in the second as a long shot appeared to be deflected at least twice before getting past Talbot. The goal was awarded to Sedin.
Vancouver tied the game midway through the middle period on a 2-on-1 break, with Sutter scoring his fourth of the season.
Edmonton regained the lead with 1:06 to play in the second when Puljujarvi banged in a rebound from in tight.
The Oilers made it 4-2 five minutes into the third on an odd-man rush as Puljujarvi set up Draisaitl for a one-timer to score his 12th.
Maroon added an empty-netter to seal it for Edmonton.
NOTES: It was the second of four meetings between the teams this season, the first coming back on Oct. 7 when the Oilers lost 3-2 in Vancouver. ... Both teams were coming back from their bye week. ... The Oilers were without forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, expected to be sidelined five to six weeks with cracked ribs. As a result, Iiro Pakarinen played his first game with Edmonton since Nov. 28 after being recalled from the AHL. ... The Canucks were without Bo Horvat (ankle) and Erik Gudbranson (back spasms).
Canucks: Sunday night at Winnipeg.
Oilers: Host the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night.
More AP NHL: www.apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey