VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP)Three straight wins heading into the holiday break has given the Vancouver Canucks a dose of self-confidence. Goaltender Jacob Markstrom says his team hasn’t proven anything yet.
Quinn Hughes’ power-play goal midway through the third period was the winner as the Canucks beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-2 on Monday night.
Tyler Motte, Bo Horvat and Loui Eriksson also scored for Vancouver (19-15-4).
“It’s December right now,” Markstrom said. “We can’t get ahead of ourselves. We’re still looking in, I think (to a playoff spot).”
With the win, the Canucks sit in 10th place in a tight Western Conference, but moved just two points back of the Oilers (20-16-4), who currently hold down the third spot in the Pacific.
“I think our team game today was really good, one of the better 60-minute performances we had,” Markstrom said.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Oscar Klefbom scored for Edmonton (20-16-4).
Mikko Koskinen made 24 saves for Edmonton. Markstrom stopped 27 shots in his eighth-straight start for the Canucks. Both teams were 1 for 2 on the power play.
Playing their fourth of a five-game homestand, the Canucks opened the scoring for the fourth-straight game.
Motte lined up against Leon Draisaitl for an offensive-zone draw with one second remaining in slashing penalty to the Oilers’ Gaetan Haas. It took Motte just two seconds to drive forward and lift the loose puck over Koskinen’s glove for his first goal of the season at 11:15 of the first period.
“I think it was our first offensive-zone faceoff in awhile,” said Motte, who has been effective in a checking role on a line with Jay Beagle and Tim Schaller. “We knew they were coming out of the box in two seconds, so just trying to get a puck to the net.
“When Beags got kicked out, I was just trying to keep a similar play and went to that side. I think it bounced off his skate and right back behind him. Just tried to get something on net quick.”
Nugent-Hopkins countered with his seventh goal of the season with 4:20 left in the opening period, driving into the slot and beating Markstrom on the stick side.
With Antoine Roussel serving an interference penalty early in the second period, the Oilers’ league-best road power play went to work.
After some strong puck movement, Klefbom put Edmonton ahead 2-1 with a shot from the right point that found its way through traffic and past Markstrom on the blocker side. Connor McDavid and Draisaitl assisted on the goal, their league-leading 62nd and 61st points, respectively, of the season.
Later in the second, Roussel dropped the gloves with Edmonton’s Darnell Nurse at the end of a physical shift in the Edmonton zone.
Troy Stecher narrowly missed tying the game when he hit the post from close range with seven seconds left in the second. Then, early in the third, Tanner Pearson hit the crossbar behind Koskinen.
At 4:12 of the third, the Canucks tied the game 2-2 on Horvat’s first goal on home ice this season. Video review confirmed that Horvat directed the puck past Koskinen with his right skate, but did not kick it in.
“Honestly, I was trying to stop as quick as I could at the net,” Horvat said. “Thankfully, it went off my skate and in. It was going to take one of those for me to go in. (Pearson) made a heck of a play to get it on net, and thankfully, it hit me.”
“They just said it went upstairs and they reviewed it and it was a good goal, but I’ve looked at it a lot of times,” Oilers coach Dave Tippett said. “If it’s illegal to kick a puck in the net, that’s kicking, but that’s for other people to decide.”
The Oilers were unable to capitalize on their second power play of the game when Tanner Pearson took a holding penalty at 7:53 of the third.
The Canucks regained the lead with 6:12 to play in regulation, when Hughes threaded through a slap shot from the blue line for this third of the year, while the Oilers were serving a penalty for too many men on the ice.
Eriksson closed out the scoring with his second of the season, into an empty net with 14 seconds left.
NOTES: Vancouver’s last three-game winning streak came in October. The Canucks went 4-0-0 between Oct. 9-17. … Monday’s game concluded the season series between the Pacific Division rivals, with each team winning two games. … Alex Edler returned to the Vancouver lineup after missing 10 games with an upper-body injury. To make room for him, Jordie Benn was scratched for the first time as a Canuck. … Thatcher Demko backed up Markstrom after missing the last six games with a concussion. … The Canucks are now 13-3-0 this season when they score the first goal.
Oilers: Host Calgary Flames on Friday.
Canucks: Close out a five-game homestand against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.
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