EDMONTON — The Vancouver Canucks may have brought in goalie Ryan Miller in the off-season, but Eddie Lack isn’t ready to hand over the starting goalie reins just yet.
Lack had 21 saves and Alexander Edler had a goal and an assist as the Canucks came away with a 2-1 road win over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night.
Nick Bonino also scored for Vancouver, who improved to 4-2-0 in pre-season play.
Teddy Purcell’s goal was the only one Lack has allowed in just over two full games worth of pre-season play, stopping 57 of 58 shots faced. However, the 26-year-old Swedish goalie was the first to admit that stats from before the regular season can be misleading.
“It’s just the pre-season, so you can’t read too much into it,’’ said Lack. “I think I let in five goals every game in the last pre-season. I’m just trying to focus on what I can do here. I’m just looking forward to the regular season now.’’
Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said Thursday’s game was more competitive than the ones that preceded it, offering a welcome test for his team with the regular season on the horizon.
“I thought there was bit more intensity out there,’’ said Desjardins. “I know we wanted to play with more intensity. I thought our battle level was a little higher, which was good to see.’’
Purcell was the lone scorer for the Oilers, who dropped to 4-3-0 in exhibition action.
“It started off intense right off the bat,’’ Purcell said. “I learned pretty quick that this is a heated rivalry. It’s good to show some emotion in pre-season, both teams are still trying to get the rust off and learn the systems and stuff, but it was good to see that emotion early.
“You can tell there is a strong dislike there.’’
Edmonton took a 1-0 lead with 1:19 left in the first period.
Jesse Joensuu followed up on a two-goal night against Arizona the night before by showing some solid hustle to fight off two defenders in a race to the puck along the boards. Joensuu fed it to Purcell, who scored his first goal as an Oiler since coming over in a trade with Tampa Bay this summer.
Purcell beat Canucks goalie Eddie Lack with a backhand in tight. Lack was shaken up by a collision on the play, but was able to continue in net.
“I made a save and I kind of got stuck and he ran me over,’’ Lack said. “It was just black and all of a sudden the puck was in the net. I think I was more scared than anything. I am fine now.’’
Joensuu also looked strong in the pre-season last year when he had three goals and an assist in three games, but a back injury was at least partially to blame in a poor regular season where he had just five points in 42 games.
“To be honest, I’m happy for every healthy day, that was my focus this summer,’’ he said. “I feel like I’ve performed well and I’ve enjoyed playing tones and playing more minutes than maybe what I’ve played last season. It’s been fun and I’m happy.’’
It was a feisty affair with several fights, punctuated by a brief stretch early in the second that saw Cal O’Reilly drag down Edmonton’s Nikita Nikitin, forcing him from the game with an ankle injury. Vancouver’s Tim Sestito then took a run at Oilers goalie Viktor Fasth, earning the ire of rookie defenceman Darnell Nurse and later a fight with Kevin Westgarth.
Vancouver tied the game 11 minutes into the second period with a short-handed goal as Edler made a long feed to Bonino and he beat Fasth with a quick shot.The Canucks went up 2-1 with five minutes left in the second while the teams were playing four men a side as Niklas Jensen fed a wide-open Edler in the slot and he blasted it into the Edmonton net.
There was no scoring in a largely uneventful third period.
The two teams will close out the pre-season with a rematch in Vancouver on Saturday night.