LINEUP UPDATE: Robert Nilsson draws back into the lineup for the Oilers after missing four games with an upper body injury. He is reunited with Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano on the second line... Jason Strudwick will play up front with Marc Pouliot and Zack Stortini. Liam Reddox and Rob Schremp are expected to be healthy scratches... Dwayne Roloson gets the start in goal tonight.
VANCOUVER CANUCKS (16-10-3) at
EDMONTON OILERS (13-12-2)
Start Time: 8:08 p.m. MST
Television: CBC (HD)
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.
Today's Game Notes
|Robert Nilsson celebrates after scoring a goal against the Canucks in October.
by Marc Ciampa & Steve Knowles | edmontonoilers.com
|THE ESSENTIALS FOR TONIGHT
The Edmonton Oilers look to get back on the winning track tonight when they meet Northwest Division rivals - and division leaders - the Vancouver Canucks.
Edmonton was coming off three consecutive wins before a 2-0 setback (with an empty netter) against the Florida Panthers on Thursday night. This is the second game of a three-game homestand so the club will be looking to right the ship on home ice.
So far at Rexall Place this season, the Oilers have a record of 3-4-3. They have played the fewest number of home games of any team in the NHL but will play predominantly at home for the next month.
Vancouver had an outstanding November during which they picked up points in 10 straight games. However, they let their hold on the division lead slip up with three straight losses after that. Currently, Vancouver is 2-0-1 in their last three.
This is the second of six meetings between the Oilers and Canucks and first of three between the clubs in December. Vancouver won the previous encounter in October by a score of 6-3.
Just The Facts...
OILERS TO WATCH:
Dwayne Roloson has been in the zone for the Oilers over the last ten games…it was never more evident than in Edmonton’s 3-2 overtime win over the San Jose Sharks last Saturday as Roloson made a season-high 41 saves to record his fifth win of the season…the victory ended San Jose’s NHL leading winning streak at nine games (9-0-0; Nov. 13-Dec. 4)…it was the second time in the last two seasons that Roloson has put the brakes to a Sharks’ winning streak…last season he ended San Jose’s 11-game winning streak (11-0-0; Feb. 21-Mar. 14) with a 48-save performance in a 2-1 shootout victory at the “Shark Tank”…since November 15th, Roloson has started seven of Edmonton’s last 10 games and is 3-2-1 with one no decision…Andrew Cogliano
has put together a nice little streak over the Oilers last several games, scoring 3-2-5 in five games…after scoring once in a 4-2 win at St. Louis on November 29th, Cogliano then had back-to-back multiple point games with a goal and an assist versus Dallas (Dec. 3) and at Los Angeles (Dec. 5)…he has moved into fourth place on the Oilers scoring list with 8-6-14…Shawn Horcoff
became the 13th player in Oilers history to score 300-or-more career points when he netted a goal and two assists at St. Louis (Nov. 29)…Horcoff had a six-game scoring streak (2-7-9; Nov. 26-Dec. 6) entering Thursday’s game with Florida.
CANUCKS TO WATCH:
Vancouver concludes a seven game road trip tonight against the Oilers… the season-high road swing has seen the Canucks put together a 2-3-1 record through the first six games...they started the trip with three consecutive losses, but are 2-0-1 in the last three games including a 3-1 win at Nashville on Tuesday night…goaltender Robert Luongo has been sidelined for the past eight games since suffering a groin injury at Pittsburgh on November 22nd…he returned to the ice this week and there is an outside chance that he might be available for tonight’s game…the Canucks’ number one goaltender was 11-5-2 with a 2.17 GAA and NHL leading five shutouts at the time of his injury…Vancouver is 3-4-1 in the eight games with Luongo out of the lineup…Curtis Sanford and rookie Cory Schneider have been splitting the goaltending duties since the injury to Luongo…Schneider, recalled from the Manitoba Moose (AHL), registered his first NHL victory at Minnesota on December 5th…the Sedin twins are once again leading the Vancouver attack…Daniel and Henrik are one – two in scoring for the Canucks and both are among the NHL’s leading point getters…Daniel tops Vancouver with 12-16-28 and Henrik is two points behind his brother with 4-22-26…Daniel’s 12 goals lead the Canucks and his 28 points places him in 16th place in the NHL scoring race while Henrik is tied for 24th place and is fifth in the NHL with his 22 assists.
Edmonton – Robert Nilsson (upper body) is questionable; Steve MacIntyre
(orbital bone) is out; Fernando Pisani (broken ankle) is out. Vancouver – D Sami Salo (groin) is questionable. Ryan Johnson (broken finger/broken foot) is out. Roberto Luongo (groin) is out. Rick Rypien (sports hernia) is out.
Tonight’s game is the first of three meetings between the Oilers and Canucks in December…following tonight’s game at Rexall Place the Oilers will visit Vancouver twice in the next 13 days as they play at General Motors Place on December 17th and again on Boxing Day…the Oilers are 0-1-0 against the Canucks this season after falling 6-3 at Vancouver on October 25th….Vancouver will return to Rexall Place for games on January 7th and April 4th…the Oilers are looking for their 100th career win against Vancouver as their all-time record versus the Canucks is 99-63-19-7 (W-L-T-OL) since 1979-80…on December 19th when the Oilers host Anaheim, the EOCF and Edmonton Oilers Ladies will host Shirts Off Our Backs presented by ATB Financial in support of the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton…in exchange for a donation to the Christmas Bureau, fans will receive a raffle ticket. Then, during the course of the game, a selection of lucky numbers will be randomly drawn and announced, with the holders of the matching tickets instantly winning an autographed Oilers jersey…tickets are $5 or five tickets for $20.
Oilers activate Nilsson from IR
- General Manager Steve Tambellini announced today the Oilers have activated left wing Robert Nilsson from the NHL Injured Reserve List. Nilsson missed the Oilers last four games after suffering an upper body injury at Dallas on December 3rd. ...more
The Other Side - news from Canucks.com
- 16 Days of Trevor Linden: Game 7 - The special 16-day initiative will take an in-depth look at Trevor Linden’s career, concluding on December 16th, 2008. Linden impresses, as usual, during the Canucks post-season run. ...more
- Tale of the Tape: Canucks @ Oilers - The Canucks finish off the longest road trip of the year in Edmonton as they face off against the Northwest rivals for the second time in the regular season. Vancouver looks for a win to conclude the road trip with a .500 record. ...more
- Luongo experiences setback - Canuck captain Roberto Luongo did not make the trip to Edmonton as originally expected. The injured star goaltender stayed in Vancouver after experiencing pains while making "dynamic movements" at practice. ...more
From the Fans
Odds and Ends
- Sheldon Souray co-hosts The Link - The Link host Crystal Leriger got a little help on set as Sheldon Souray made a special co-hosting appearance Friday, Dec. 12th. See how Sheldon handled his co-hosting duties and how his teammates scored in Souray 101. ...more
- This or That? with Lubomir Visnovsky - Things aren't always black and white, but we made Lubomir Visnovsky choose Option A or Option B on a variety of topics, including transportation, breakfast foods, and late-December holidays. ...more
From the Wire (AP)
The Vancouver Canucks have gotten inconsistent play in net in recent weeks. Not having your star goaltender available can cause that to happen.
After learning Roberto Luongo will miss more time, the Canucks conclude a season-high seven-game road trip with a matchup against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night.
Luongo strained his groin Nov. 22 in Pittsburgh and appeared to be getting close to coming back. The Canucks captain, though, left Wednesday's practice after only 20 minutes and coach Alain Vigneault said Friday there's no timetable for his return.
"For some time he has been feeling some soreness when he has been doing some dynamic exercises on the ice," Vigneault said on the team's Web site. "It's not going as quickly as we thought.
"Hopefully it's week-to-week instead of weeks-to-weeks. He just needs to back off on the ice."
Vancouver (16-10-3) got off to a good start after Luongo went down, beating Detroit 3-2 in overtime on Nov. 24. The Canucks, though, have gone 2-4-1 since, giving up three goals or more five times.
Curtis Sanford and rookie Cory Schneider have been sharing time in net, and neither player has risen to the challenge. Luongo was 11-5-2 with a 2.17 goals-against average and five shutouts before his injury.
Sanford is expected to get the start against the Oilers (13-12-2), who again struggled offensively at home in losing 2-0 to Florida on Thursday night despite having 41 shots on goal.
Edmonton is 3-4-2 at Rexall Place, scoring two goals or fewer five times.
"We're a young team," defenseman Sheldon Souray said. "We're going to make mistakes, but we certainly don't want to keep repeating the same mistakes. We'll keep working on it. We'll keep hammering the message home. Sooner or later we've got to get it."
One bright spot for Edmonton was the return of center Sam Gagner, who missed two games due to a concussion. Gagner, the sixth pick in the 2007 draft, skated on the fourth line with Liam Reddox and Gilbert Brule.
Gagner, 19, had been skating on the second line before getting hurt, but the Oilers plan on easing him back slowly. As a rookie last season, Gagner had 13 goals and 36 assists in 79 games.
Edmonton could certainly use a boost on offense from Gagner. Vancouver, meanwhile, has scored 14 goals in its last four games.
Defenseman Alexander Edler scored a power-play goal 24 seconds into the third period as the Canucks pulled out a 3-1 win over Nashville on Tuesday night. Vancouver had lost the first three games of its trip, but now has won two of three.
The Canucks have not lost in regulation in their last seven games at Edmonton, going 5-0-2. Vancouver is 9-1-3 overall against the Oilers since the start of 2007, winning 6-3 at home on Oct. 25 in the teams' first meeting this season.