Vrbata scored the eventual winner and Henrik Sedin had two assists Saturday as Vancouver closed out their pre-season with a 3-2 victory against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Arena.
It was the 33-year-old veteran's third goal of the pre-season as he looks to gel with his new Canucks teammates after coming to Vancouver as a free agent this summer. He's filling some big shoes with the departure of former Sedin linemate Ryan Kesler, but so far so good.
"For me to get to know new guys, new staff and new system ... from that standpoint I think it's worked out fine," said Vrbata. "Hopefully we can carry that over to the regular season."
Chris Higgins and Daniel Sedin also scored for the Canucks, who finished their pre-season 5-2-0, including a 2-1 victory last Thursday in Edmonton. Starting goalie Ryan Miller went the distance with 27 saves as he also prepares for his first season in Vancouver.
Nail Yakupov and Will Acton replied for the Oilers (4-4-0), who wrapped their pre-season by icing a young lineup of prospects and were without stars like Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and David Perron.
Henrik Sedin, who finished the pre-season with six assists in four games, says he's feeling plenty of optimism heading into Vancouver's opener on Wednesday in Calgary.
"It's been everything you can ask for — a new line mate, our power play feels good, you're confident every time you step on the ice," said Henrik Sedin. "We feel we can create on any given shift. There's still a few things to work on but overall I'm really happy."
The Canucks, starting a more experienced lineup, jumped on the Oilers early as Alex Burrows fired a long pass to the speedy Higgins, who smoothly collected the puck and shovelled it over Ben Scrivens's left shoulder 1:19 into the first. It was Vancouver's first shot of the game.
Just over two minutes later Henrik Sedin found his twin brother behind the net and Daniel banked it in off Scrivens's back for a 2-0 lead. Vancouver finished the opening period looking firmly in control with an 8-3 shot advantage.
Edmonton got back in it at 5:07 of the second when Canucks defenceman Luca Sbisa turned it over in his zone and Yakupov took advantage with a blazing wrist shot that beat Miller.
The Canucks restored their two-goal lead at 11:33 of the second as Vrbata, with a crowd in front of Scrivens, found the loose puck and squeaked it through the goalie's legs for his third goal of the pre-season.
"I'm not going to lie — it was lucky that it went through," said Vrbata. "We were buzzing around that shift. This was a lucky one to go in."
Edmonton cut the deficit back down to one goal again near the end of the second as Lander dished it to Acton at the face-off circle and the centre slapped it past Miller at 18:03.
The Oilers had a chance to tie it early in the third when Leon Draisaitl got his cage rattled by Alex Edler resulting in an elbowing penalty to the Canucks defenceman. Edmonton couldn't capitalize, however, and finished the game with a 29-18 shots-on-goal advantage.
"We want a better results than that," said Edmonton coach Dallas Eakins. "We had some chances to score late and we couldn't get it in the net. We have to get better at burying those chances when the game is on the line."
Scrivens finished with 15 saves.
The Oilers were using their last pre-season game to get another look at a number of their young talent, including Edmonton's third overall pick in this year's draft Draisaitl, centre Bogdan Yakimov, and top blue-line prospects Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom.
Eakins says he knows he's got some hard decisions to make ahead of the team opener against Calgary on Thursday.
"Every game, every day of the training camp is an important one," said Eakins. "You need to be great today, we tell these guys, and that's all you have to worry about."
Draisaitl had a golden scoring chance in the second, going one-on-one with Miller, but the veteran netminder made a solid glove save to deny the youngster.
Notes — The Canucks and Oilers will face each other fives times in the regular season. Their first meeting will be next Saturday, Oct. 11 in Vancouver. ... Before the game the Canucks assigned centre Cal O'Reilly to Utica. ... The Oilers dressed seven centres in the game.Suggest a correction