VANCOUVER — Ty Rattie says the Edmonton Oilers want to start their season strong, even if there are no points at stake.
The winger helped power his team to their second victory in a row Tuesday night, with the Oilers beating the Canucks 4-2 in Vancouver.
"We don’t want to ease our way into the season. We want to start right now," said Rattie, who put up two goals for the Oilers. "Even though these points don’t count, it’s a good feeling in here and we just want to keep that up."
Jesse Puljujarvi and Caleb Jones also scored for Edmonton, while Kailer Yamamoto notched another assist less than 24 hours after he put on a dazzling performance in the team’s Monday night victory over Calgary.
Sven Baertschi and Nikolay Goldobin replied for the Canucks.
The highlight of the game for the Oilers wasn’t a goal, but an astonishing stop by Cam Talbot.
Midway through the first period, Goldobin took a shot from the point that seemed destined to become a goal, but the veteran netminder leaned back and snatched the puck from mid air.
The play gave the Oilers momentum and showed why Talbot is one of the team’s leaders, said Edmonton coach Todd McLellan.
"He’s a tremendous goaltender," he said. "If he’s doing the things he did tonight in the pipes, the rest of the team has to react appropriately. And he can drive the momentum or the pace or the spirit of our team sometimes with those saves."
Talbot made 23 saves. He was replaced by Al Montoya for the third period, who had 13 stops.
All of the Oilers came ready to play hard against the Canucks, said Edmonton’s Ryan Strome.
"Everyone had some jump, had some energy. The bench was lively. And we’ve got to set the tone early for the season right off the start," he said.
The Oilers finished last season with a disappointing 36-40-6 record, third last in the Pacific Division.
Things are different this year, Strome said, noting that players showed up to training camp "really hungry."
"We’re trying to get that winning culture right from the get go," said the centre. "We need a good start this year, we know that. And I think, obviously, these first two games are a great starting point."
Tuesday’s exhibition saw both teams put young prospects out on the ice, including Elias Pettersson, Vancouver’s hotly anticipated Swedish forward. The 19-year-old got credit for an assist on Goldobin’s third period power-play goal, marking his first time on an NHL scoresheet.
"I was a little nervous before the game," Pettersson said afterwards. "As soon as the puck dropped and I had my first shift, it felt good and I was having fun out there."
Excitement about the teen’s debut had been growing steadily since the Canucks took him fifth overall at the 2017 NHL draft.
Pettersson spent last season taking the Swedish Hockey League by storm, notching 24 goals and 32 assists. He led the entire league in scoring.
He showed flashes of greatness on Tuesday, making a crisp backhanded pass in front of the Edmonton net, dekeing out the Oilers defence and firing a rocket at Talbot during a second-period power play.
Canucks head coach Travis Green said Pettersson’s line was Vancouver’s best of the night, showing ample creativity. The young forward looked good individually, too, he added.
"I think he’s grasping things daily and I think he understands it’s different over here. And smart players adapt quicker," Green said.
Overall, Vancouver’s coach thought his squad did "some good things" in their first outing of the year.
But Green noted that several players put on "average" performances, which won’t cut it once October comes around.
"As we go on and we get closer to the regular season, guys are going to need to be better than average," he said.
The Canucks play seven exhibition matches this year. They’ll play the Calgary Flames at home on Wednesday, then the L.A. Kings on Thursday.
The Oilers will host the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.