Zack Kassian turns 23 on Friday and it’s probably not a coincidence that the Vancouver Canucks winger is showing signs that he is beginning to get what it takes to be a NHL regular.

Kassian did a couple of nice things in Tuesday night’s 2-1 win in Edmonton over the Oilers. For starters, he scored what proved to be the winning goal when he snapped a shot that beat Edmonton goalie Ben Scrivens high to the stick side.

He also showed the discipline that has sometimes been lacking in his game. Kassian had a target on his back in the game, his first at Rexall Place since he broke the jaw of Edmonton forward Sam Gagner with a high stick during a pre-season game. Kassian was challenged much of the night by Oiler winger Luke Gazdic, but refused to engage.

There was a time not that long ago when Kassian would not have been able to turn down an invitation to drop the gloves. It is a sign that perhaps his game is beginning to mature. He is, after all, no longer a kid.

“We were playing a good solid game and there was no need to give their fans and their team a boost,” Kassian said after Wednesday’s practice at Rogers Arena. “There’s no need to fight there. He probably thinks differently, but he is trying to do his job and I am trying to do my job.

“There is always going to be conflict. I am not out there to make friends with the other teams. If the other team likes me it means I am not doing my job. Last night was good for me. I think I did a good job last night, but it’s something I need to keep doing.”

Kassian, of course, has been a work in progress since being acquired in the Cody Hodgson trade with Buffalo nearly two years ago.

Tuesday night’s goal was his 10th of the season, which has him tied for fourth on the Canucks. He has scored those 10 goals on just 47 shots, leaving him with a shooting percentage of 21.3. That’s fourth best in the NHL among players who have played 25 or more games this season.

Kassian acknowledges that some of the tough love he has received from new coach John Tortorella has helped. Tortorella, now serving a 15-day suspension, has refused to cut Kassian any slack. He has on a couple of occasions called out Kassian publicly for his spotty defensive play and after a recent string of misconducts suggested Kassian needed to “shut his mouth.”

“There has been some tough love, but that is exactly what I need for me to be a good player in this league,” Kassian said. “I need to work on certain things. John kind of pinpointed those things and if I am not doing those things he doesn’t play me as much. So it’s pretty simple for me. If I want to play more and be a bigger part of the team I need to do the things that I am told to do and that’s playing D first, protecting pucks, making good plays, being solid defensively and from there my game kind of goes.”

Kassian understandably did not want to discuss the irony of his discipline-preaching coach now being suspended for what can only be described as an undisciplined attempt to storm the Calgary Flames dressing room on Saturday bight. But Kassian acknowledged his mouth has been known to get him into trouble.