EDMONTON — Jesse Puljujarvi's decision to spend his time off playing with Edmonton kids on an outdoor rink seems to have paid off.
Puljujarvi had a career best three points with a goal and two assists and Patrick Maroon scored twice as the Edmonton Oilers had a strong showing in their return from a week-long break, defeating the Vancouver Canucks 5-2 on Saturday.
"It was a fun night and a good win," said the 19-year-old Finn, taken fourth overall by Edmonton in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. "I think we all played well as a team, as did our line.
"Having the week rest, I feel 100 per cent right now, I feel great. I got a little confidence on that outdoor rink."
Oiler captain Connor McDavid said that Puljujarvi is just starting to tap his potential, with 14 points in 30 games this season.
"The sky is as tall as he wants it to be," he said. "He's big, skates well, is confident, has a great shot… but I think it all goes back to his size. He's six-foot-four, still young, trying to (grow) into his body. He'll be that solid-on-his-feet, good puck-battle guy."
Jujhar Khaira and Leon Draisaitl also scored for the Oilers (21-23-3), who have won three games in a row and are now 9-2 against the Pacific this season.
Daniel Sedin and Brandon Sutter replied for the Canucks (18-22-6), who had a two-game winning streak snapped.
"We gave them odd-man rushes and those are skilled players, they're going to score if we give them enough chances," Sedin said. "That's what happened tonight. It's too bad, we battled back to make it 2-2 and they get one at the end of the second, that's a tough one for sure."
Edmonton scored on the first shot of the game 1:25 into the contest when Maroon stripped a puck in the Vancouver zone and dished it off to McDavid, who promptly sent it back to Maroon for an easy tap-in past Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom for his 12th of the season.
Vancouver had a good chance midway through the opening period, but Brock Boeser was stopped on a 2-on-0 breakaway by Oilers goalie Cam Talbot.
Edmonton made it 2-0 with two minutes left in the first, as Puljujarvi picked off a pass and sent it in front to Khaira, who scored on a backhand shot.
The Canucks got on the board with a power-play goal early in the second as a long shot appeared to be deflected at least twice before getting past Talbot and being awarded to Sedin.
Vancouver tied the game midway through the middle period on a 2-on-1 break, with Sutter scoring his fourth of the season.
Edmonton regained the lead with 1:06 to play in the second when Puljujarvi banged in a rebound from in tight for his ninth of the year.
The Oilers made it 4-2 five minutes into the third on an odd-man rush as Puljujarvi set up Draisaitl for a one-timer to score his 12th.
Maroon added an empty-netter to seal the deal for Edmonton.
Notes: It was the second of four meetings between the two teams this season, the first coming way back on Oct. 7, when the Oilers lost 3-2 in Vancouver… Both teams were coming back from their league-mandated five-day bye week breaks… The Oilers were without forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who is expected to be out five to six weeks with cracked ribs… The Canucks were without Bo Horvat (ankle) and Erik Gudbranson (back spasms).
Shane Jones, The Canadian Press