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Markkanen holds firm as Oilers edge Canucks

Oct 18, 2006 - 3:45 AM EDMONTON, Alberta (Ticker) -- Jussi Markkanen proved that his performance in last season's Stanley Cup Finals was no fluke.

Markkanen made 21 saves in his season debut and the Edmonton Oilers were able to parlay a pair of early goals into a 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks in the back end of a home-and-home series.

With the Oilers trailing the Carolina Hurricanes, one game to none, Markkanen got the start in Game Two of the Finals after starter Dwayne Roloson was injured in the series opener. The Finn played well over the final six contests, giving Edmonton every chance to capture its sixth championship.

While the Hurricanes ultimately pulled out the series in seven hard-fought games, Markkanen was not at all to blame. The 31-year-old was steady throughout and spectacular at times, and showed again Tuesday that he is a very capable NHL goaltender.

"It feels good to get into the net for the first time this year," said Markkanen, who made 32 starts last season. "It's good to be able to help the team win. Any time you can help the team, you are satisfied. Dwayne has been playing so good to start the year, I want to play good when I come in, too."

Markkanen came within 2 1/2 minutes of posting his eighth career shutout before allowing a late power-play goal to Markus Naslund. But he denied a blast by defenseman Mattias Ohlund and the ensuing rebound in the final 30 seconds to preserve the win.

"We got what we needed out of Jussi tonight, and it was good for him to get in," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said.

Ethan Moreau opened the scoring for Edmonton just 51 seconds into the contest, when he gloved a pass by the left boards, dropped the puck to the ice and fired a shot over Dany Sabourin's shoulder.

Rookie Patrick Thoresen added his second career tally just over two minutes later to make it 2-0. He pounced on a loose puck in the slot and, between three defenders, managed to slip the puck past Sabourin.

The Canucks were unable to break through until Naslund took a pass from Daniel Sedin and beat Markkanen for his 301st career goal, breaking the franchise record held by Trevor Linden, who, ironically, was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career.

"The whole team played good tonight and I'm glad we were able to hold on at the end," Markkanen said. "I didn't like giving up the goal that made it a one-goal game, but we held on and that's what's important."

The Oilers won despite going 0-for-8 with the man advantage. They entered 6-for-30 with the extra skater this season.

"We tried a few things on our power play tonight that weren't working," MacTavish said. "Then we started mixing up some of the guys and they weren't used to playing with each other. That will just take some time."

Making his fifth career start and first this season, Sabourin made 18 saves for Vancouver, which posted a 2-1 home triumph against Edmonton on Monday.

"I was happy with how I bounced back and the guys worked hard in front of me all night," Sabourin said. "I just want to give the team a chance to win when I do get in there."

"I didn't lose any confidence in Dany tonight and was impressed with the way he bounced back to give us a chance to get back in the game," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "Without him, the score wouldn't have been so close."

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