Twenty-four hours after the Vancouver Canucks rallied to win on the shoulders of one Superman, they had a lot of good men in a 5-2 road victory against the Edmonton Oilers.

Elias Pettersson’s five-point night and shootout winner — after six sick days — was a performance for the ages on Thursday when the Canucks beat the Seattle Kraken 6-5. But the more impressive game for Vancouver was in Edmonton, where the Canucks gradually took the game away from Connor McDavid and the Oilers and scored the final five goals to head into the Christmas break back at .500.

For the first time since the Canucks entered the National Hockey League in 1970, the team has rallied from two-goal deficits to win on consecutive nights.

But on Friday, it wasn’t all about one superhero, although Bo Horvat did post four points and his pair of goals were matched by teammate J.T. Miller. It was a far more impressive team effort, even if the Canucks did their usual face-plant from the opening faceoff and got outshot 9-0 in the first six minutes.

They took advantage of the big saves third-string goalie Collin Delia made early, quickly responded at the start of the second period to what might have been a demoralizing goal by McDavid with five seconds left in the first, then were simply the better team in the third period when they scored three times in the last eight minutes and held the Oilers to seven shots despite an Edmonton power play and a couple of minutes of six-on-five.

“Everybody chipped in, whether it was blocking shots or making the little plays that are going to help us win,” Horvat told reporters in Edmonton. “It was just a big effort for us all around tonight.

“I’m more proud of the way we defended tonight. Obviously, we know a team like that is going to get their looks, but I thought we did a better job of taking away the middle of the ice and the Grade-As (chances).”

Miller started the comeback with a shot from distance that bounced off Stuart Skinner’s shoulder and then tumbled up and over the goalie just 41 seconds into the second period. It was Miller’s first goal in 12 games, but his next one came only 18 minutes later when he tied it 2-2 on a power-play rebound after a nice pass by Pettersson.

“Listen, I haven’t scored in a while so I was just going for a change, honestly,” Miller said of his high heater that bounced in off Skinner. “I still don’t even know how it went in. I was just surprised and kind of laughed because I’ve had a ton of chances lately and none of them are going in, and obviously that’s the one that goes in.”

Horvat used his quick hands to finesse the puck into the net for the go-ahead goal at 12:25 of the third period before Skinner could react to the rebound off the end boards from Tyler Myers’ shot, and Ilya Mikheyev buried a pass to the slot from Horvat to make it 4-2 at 17:19. Horvat then scored his 24th goal before Christmas into an open net with 41 seconds remaining.

Only McDavid (30) and Buffalo’s Tage Thompson (26) have scored more.

There have been so many U-turns to the Canucks’ season, so many fleeting blips upwards in the standings that we know better than to think anything was solved over the span of 24 hours, especially when the team was not very good against Seattle. 

But they followed the biggest individual performance of the season with one of the best team performances and, at 15-15-3, are back ahead of coach Bruce Boudreau’s fantasy schedule.

Boudreau told his players this week about how his 2015-16 Anaheim Ducks team, which went on to win the Pacific Division with 103 points, started the year 1-7-2 and did not make it back to .500 until New Year’s Eve. The Canucks have done it by Dec. 23. Their next chance to move into positive figures is Tuesday when the San Jose Sharks visit Rogers Arena.


After playing backup goalie Spencer Martin in nine straight games while starter Thatcher Demko recovers from a lower-body injury, Boudreau finally gave minor-league callup Collin Delia his first start as a Canuck.

Delia’s only NHL crease time in December had been 43 minutes of relief work during the Canucks’ four-goal comeback win against the Montreal Canadiens 2 ½ weeks ago. But he stopped 31 of 33 shots on Friday for his first NHL win as a starter since a 43-save victory for the Chicago Blackhawks in Los Angeles last March 24.

The 28-year-old’s five-star saves in Edmonton included stops against Darnell Nurse, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Klim Kostin and McDavid. The only goals he allowed were to Derek Ryan on a breakaway and McDavid into an open net after Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s failed clearance ended with Zach Hyman passing across two Canucks and their goalie to an unchecked McDavid.

Just as Martin’s strong play allowed him to earn a couple of extra starts before Demko was injured, Delia’s outstanding game makes him a more realistic choice for Boudreau when the post-holiday schedule begins.


The biggest mismatch going into Edmonton was the Canucks’ last-ranked penalty killing (67.4 per cent) against the Oilers’ NHL-leading power play (33.1 per cent). But Vancouver’s shorthanded players blanked the McDavid-Draisaitl power play on three chances.

It helped, obviously, that Delia stopped all six shots he faced and that Horvat won four of five shorthanded draws. But Canuck penalty killers also protected the slot, didn’t allow seam passes for Draisaitl’s one-timers and were sharp at clearing pucks when needed.

On a night when there was a lot to like for the Canucks, the special-teams win was one of the most impressive and surprising.


And now some positive words on Tyler Myers, who has mostly struggled at both ends of the ice this season. 

He and Ekman-Larsson were frequently matched up against McDavid, and they’re never going to win that matchup territorially. But they limited high-danger chances against and were good at gathering and moving pucks up ice and out of trouble. And Myers, who had only six points in 29 games before Friday, finished with a pair of assists and was plus-three in 23:20 of ice time that was just below his second-highest of the season. It was one of his best games.


Miller: “You know, it’s been an interesting year for us to say the least. We don’t have any quit in there, which is a really positive thing. But that was one of our better games just for the fact. . . getting in at (3 am) and having a quick turnaround against a team that’s ready and really very dangerous. The penalty kill was huge for us tonight, the power(play) got one and our third period was one of our best of the year for sure.”