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.