VANCOUVER CANUCKS (17-12-3) at
EDMONTON OILERS (15-16-2)
8:08 p.m. MST
630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.
Game Notes | Edmonton/Vancouver Stats Comparison | Player Head-to-Head Statistics
The Edmonton Oilers have four more games before the holiday break and look to get on a roll just before Christmas. It's also their second opportunity to reach .500.
Tonight is the first of three straight at home and they will face an opponent that’s been familiar to them so far this season. This will be the fifth meeting of the season between the Oilers and Vancouver Canucks.
Much like last season, the Canucks started this year slowly with a record of 5-8-0 in their first 13 games but this time it didn’t take them until Christmas to catch fire. In November, Vancouver went on a run of 9-1-2 to rise to the top of the Northwest Division.
Tonight's game wraps up a four-game road trip for the Northwest Division leading Canucks. They lost two of their first three games on the trip, defeating Anaheim and falling to L.A. and San Jose. Vancouver is five points up on the Oilers.
One of only two teams the Canucks couldn’t beat in November were the Edmonton Oilers. Edmonton defeated Vancouver 1-0 in a shootout on November 14 and again a week later on November 20 5-4 in a shootout.
In their last game, the Oilers had their ninth shootout win of the season, ending Detroit's seven-game winning streak and six-game home winning streak.
After a slow start that saw the team go 5-10-0 in its first 15 games, the Oilers have picked up points in 12 of their last 18 contests (10-6-2). However, they would like to have some more success at home – they are only 5-9-0 in their last 14 home games and have lost their last two at Rexall Place.
Just The Facts...
LINEUP UPDATE (12:02 PM):
Raffi Torres is out for tonight due to injury which means Geoff Sanderson will draw back in... Mathieu Garon gets the start in goal tonight... The defence remains the same - Dick Tarnstrom is out once again.
OILERS TO WATCH: Shawn Horcoff
and Andrew Cogliano
have been Edmonton’s go-to guys against Vancouver this season. Both players have three points (one goal, two assists)… Tom Gilbert
(one goal, one assist), Sam Gagner
and Ales Hemsky
(two assists each) have also put up some points against Edmonton’s division rivals… No Oiler has scored more than once this season against the Canucks… Sheldon Souray
makes his return to Rexall Place tonight. He missed nearly two months of action after falling on his shoulder following a fight with Vancouver’s Byron Ritchie on October 13. In two games since his return, he has a goal and an assist - both on the power play.
CANUCKS TO WATCH:
Jason Jaffray was recalled by the Canucks earlier this week and had an impressive debut. In his first-ever NHL game, he had two points including an assist and the game-winning goal versus the Anaheim Ducks… Mason Raymond was also recalled from Manitoba at the same time as Jaffray and also did very well. Earlier this season, he played nine games for the Canucks but managed only one assist. On Wednesday in Anaheim, he had a goal and an assist. In 17 games with the Manitoba Moose, Raymond has six goals and 14 points. Jaffray has 10 goals and 21 points in 19 games for Manitoba… With an injury to Roberto Luongo, Curtis Sanford could see action again tonight. He has played well in relief of Luongo with a 4-1-0 record.
Edmonton – Geoff Sanderson (back) and Dick Tarnstrom (concussion) are both ready to return to the lineup. It's up to head coach Craig MacTavish whether he inserts them. Raffi Torres is questionable. Ethan Moreau (foot) is doubtful. Matt Greene (ankle) is out; Vancouver – Jeff Cowan (shoulder) is out. Kevin Bieksa (ankle) is out. Roberto Luongo (ribs) is questionable.
Vancouver averages the third most penalties in the NHL at 17.6 minutes per game... Edmonton's penalty killing at home is very good at 87.3% - third in the NHL... Vancouver is 14-0-0 when leading after two periods... Edmonton was 0-12-0 when trailing after two periods at the start of this week but managed to come from behind against both Dallas and St. Louis in the third. They only managed one point in Monday’s overtime loss to the Stars but Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues, the Oilers won in the shootout… Three Oilers are in the league’s top three in shootout goals this season. Ales Hemsky
has five to lead the league, while Sam Gagner
has four and Shawn Horcoff
has three… Mathieu Garon is second in the NHL in shootout save percentage at .938. He’s stopped 15 of 16 shootout attempts so far this season. Mike Smith of Dallas leads the league at 1.000 (three-for-three)… The last two times Edmonton and Vancouver met the game went to a shootout, with the Oilers coming out victorious.
- Souray, Pisani, Garon, Gagner & MacTavish comment on tonight's game. 700K
- Pisani, Nilsson & Gagner talk about the success of their new line. 700K
Nilsson contributing with new linemates -
In recent games, it seems the Oilers have found a consistent secondary scoring threat in the form of a line with Sam Gagner
, Fernando Pisani and Robert Nilsson. ...more
The Other Side
- Tale of the Tape - Get all you need to know for the Canucks vs. Edmonton Saturday. More
- Smiles Abound at Moose Children's Hospital Visit - It can provide some of the most challenging – and yet rewarding – moments the Manitoba Moose will experience all season, but unlike the 80-plus battles they face on the ice, everyone comes out a winner at the hockey club’s annual Children’s Hospital visit as they brought holiday cheer to kids and their families last Wednesday. More
- VIDEO: Canucks This Week - Three road games and a visit from Sid the Kid all in a week's work. Watch
- Behind the Lens Road Diary Edmonton - Canucks photographer Jeff Vinnick joined the team for their four-game road swing and finally arrive at their last stop on the trip. From sunny California to the snow covered Edmonton. ...more
- End of the Road - The end is in sight and the odyssey is almost over. When the Canucks travel from San Jose to Edmonton Friday, it’ll mark the sixth time in the past 14 days they’ve boarded an airplane. ...more
Odds and Ends
- Top 3 Plays of the Week - Mathieu Garon's save on Keith Tkachuk in the dying seconds Tuesday in St. Louis was the play of the week for December 4-11. Follow the link to see the top three according to your votes! ...more
- Listen to a Podcast of Patrick LaForge on Oilers Live - Edmonton Oilers President & CEO Patrick LaForge was on Oilers Live earlier today, taking fans' questions and addressing the news that a new offer has been made to purchase the team. Follow the link to listen to the archive. ...more
From the Wire
The Northwest Division-leading Vancouver Canucks hope to end a difficult four-game road trip with a .500 record on Saturday night, but they might want to avoid having to win in a shootout against the Edmonton Oilers.
The Canucks (17-12-3) started this six-day trip with a 4-2 loss to Los Angeles on Monday before beating Anaheim 3-2 two days later. They failed to build on any momentum created from the win over the reigning Stanley Cup champion Ducks by losing 5-2 to San Jose in a sloppy performance Thursday.
"We weren't sharp at all," said Vancouver captain Markus Naslund, who is second on the team with 11 goals but has not scored in eight games. "We didn't play like we had anything in it. All along, we've said we weren't going to use any excuses, about injuries or scheduling."
The Canucks are in the midst of playing seven games in 11 days. After visiting Edmonton (15-16-2), Vancouver gets two days off before hosting New Jersey.
Until then, the Canucks are likely to be without goaltender Roberto Luongo (rib) for a fourth consecutive game and center Brendan Morrison (wrist) for a third. Luongo might be back against the Devils, while there is no timetable set for Morrison's return.
With those two players sidelined, Vancouver could use some more production out of leading goal-scorer Daniel Sedin, who was held to just one shot Thursday and has only scored four times in the last 14 games.
He's been held pointless in the last two contests against the Oilers - both losses - after getting nine goals and six assists as Vancouver won the previous seven meetings. Sedin didn't register a shot in a 5-4 shootout defeat at Edmonton on Nov. 20.
The Canucks are 0-3 in shootouts this season with two coming against Edmonton.
The Oilers, who are last in the Northwest but only five points back of Vancouver, are looking for their third consecutive victory and they might feel more comfortable if the game goes to a shootout.
They lead the NHL with nine shootout wins, including Tuesday's 5-4 victory at St. Louis and Thursday's 4-3 win in Detroit.
Edmonton is three shootout wins short of the NHL record set by Dallas in 2005-06. Five teams tied for the league lead with 10 last season.
"I'm at a loss to explain it, really," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. "When you've had that much success, you're pretty relaxed going into it. I think that helps the shooters, knowing that."
Ales Hemsky leads the league with five shootout goals in nine attempts. He scored the winner against Dominik Hasek on Thursday after netting his 10th goal of the season in the first period.
Hemsky has eight points in his last six games and 14 in his past 11 contests. He had two assists against Vancouver on Nov. 20.
These teams have split their first four meetings of the season.