Canucks beat Oilers in Sundin’s debut

  • Associated Press
  • Wednesday, January 7, 2009 10:20pm
  • SportsSports

EDMONTON, Alberta — Steve Bernier scored twice in 12 seconds and added one assist, leading Vancouver to a 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night in Mats Sundin’s debut with the Canucks.

Alex Burrows and Pavol Demitra also scored for Vancouver, and Jason LaBarbera stopped 23 shots.

Sundin, playing in his first NHL game in nine months, was on the ice for about 14 minutes. The 37-year-old former captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs skated primarily between wingers Kyle Wellwood and Mason Raymond and was booed every time he touched the puck.

Robert Nilsson and Erik Cole scored for Edmonton.

The Maple Leafs’ career scoring leader, Sundin left Toronto last spring under touchy circumstances after he refused a request by the team at the trade deadline to waive the no-trade clause in his contract. The Swedish-born center signed with the Canucks as a free agent on Dec. 18, but hadn’t played since the end of the regular season last year.

The 6-foot-5, 231-pound Sundin is slated to make his home debut Friday when the Canucks host St. Louis, and will play his first game against his old teammates when Vancouver visits Toronto on Feb. 21.

On Wednesday, it was the line of Bernier, Burrows and Ryan Kesler that stole the show.

Burrows opened the scoring with 5:53 left in the second, streaking into the slot to one-time Bernier’s pass from behind the net past Oilers goalie Dwayne Roloson.

Edmonton responded 1½ minutes later on the power play as Nilsson outmuscled his defender in a goalmouth scramble to knock home a loose puck.

Bernier took Kesler’s pass in the high slot and fired it past Roloson to make it 2-1 with 2:40 to go in the period. Just 12 seconds later, Burrows grabbed the puck in the corner and fed Bernier at the side of the net for his ninth goal of the season.

The Oilers made it close with 11 minutes left in the game. Cole, standing at the side of the net, redirected Steve Staios’ blue-line slap shot low past LaBarbera.

But with Roloson pulled for an extra attacker, Demitra scored with 36 seconds left to seal the victory.

Notes: Sundin spent 13 seasons with the Maple Leafs after being

acquired from the Quebec Nordiques and has 555 goals and 1,321 career points in the regular season. … LaBarbera improved to 2-0 with a 1.92 goals-against average in four games since being acquired from Los Angeles on Dec. 3-0. … Roloson lost for just the second time in his last seven games.

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