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AT THE MORNING SKATE
The Oilers held an optional practice Tuesday morning, with 14 skaters taking to the ice. Notable additions were defenceman Dean Arsene, who was called up Monday afternoon as a replacement for Theo Peckham, and forward Ales Hemsky, who continues to rehab from his shoulder surgery.
But perhaps the most newsworthy item from the skate concerned goaltending. While Jeff Deslauriers manned one of the nets, Devan Dubnyk -- who won the Oilers past two games and was expected to start tonight vs. Vancouver -- was absent from practice.
Head Coach Pat Quinn later confirmed that Dubnyk is sick with flu-like symptoms and, after a blood test confirmed the bug is contagious, was told to stay home.
"We're currently trying to make some arrangements to get someone in, otherwise we're going to dress him."
Edmonton's go-to goalies from earlier this season are unable to make game time. Bryan Pitton is on the east coast with the Falcons in Springfield, Mass., while Oil King Torrie Jung has left town due to the end of the WHL regular season. The University of Alberta 'tenders are at CIS Nationals in Thunder Bay, ON.
Quinn admitted that he doesn't know who could potentially fill the back-up position.
"The search is out," he said. "We don't have an answer yet and that's why Dubs might still have to come to the arena and then we'll figure out."
THEO OUT, DEAN IN
Dubnyk is the latest Oiler to fall victim to the illnesses and injuries that have plagued the team this season.
Last game vs. San Jose, defenceman Theo Peckham separated his shoulder on a hit by Douglas Murray, forcing the club to call up Dean Arsene.
"I knew there was a guy at my back and I just tried to brace myself for the hit. I didn't know exactly who it was, if I had known it was Murray, I probably would have braced myself a little bit more," Peckham recalled. "But I understand what he's trying to do -- he's trying to finish his check. I would have done the same thing and it's part of the game.
"I've been hurt a lot this year so it's just to work as hard as I can to get this back to 100% and try to go from there."
This is Arsene's second call up of the season, and the 29-year-old is eager to make the move permanent.
"It's one of those things, when you go down you're not sure if you're ever going to be able to get a chance to come back up, so I'm pretty fortunate and pretty happy to be here," he said.
"Right now, I'm obviously playing for a contract and trying to show that I can play here and be an everyday player. For me, I take it one day at a time like I always have whenever I come up here and hopefully that will last the rest of the year, but it's one of those things: one game, and I try to make the most of it."
CANUCKS (44-24-4) at OILERS (23-42-7)
Last 10: Vancouver 6-2-2; Edmonton 4-5-1.
Season Series: This is the sixth and final meeting between the Northwest Division rivals. Edmonton won Round 1 on Oct. 19, 2009, but the Canucks have won the last four. The last showdown was on Jan. 20, when Vancouver skated away with a 3-2 victory at Rexall Place.
Big Story: Despite a recent 14-game road trip, Vancouver is closing in on Northwest Division crown. The Canucks have built a four-point lead on the struggling Colorado Avalanche and there are only 10 games remaining in the regular season. A division title would guarantee Vancouver home-ice advantage in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Canucks: Vancouver is back on the road after going 3-1-1 on a five-game homestand. The Canucks lost in disappointing fashion on Saturday, when Henrik Zetterberg scored with 0.2 seconds remaining in overtime in a 4-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings.
"Dying seconds of overtime, it's a disappointing way to lose," said Canucks captain Roberto Luongo, who made 50 saves in the loss. "But we got a point."
Oilers: Despite possessing the fewest points (53) in the NHL, Edmonton has played well as of late. The Oilers made it two in a row on Sunday with an impressive 5-1 win against the San Jose Sharks at Rexall Place. Devan Dubnyk made 27 saves for Edmonton and came within 3:02 of recording his first shutout, only to be denied by Ryane Clowe.
"When it was 5-0, the thought started to creep in," Dubnyk said. "Just a little bit. I didn't get too excited about it. Maybe if I had 20 wins, I might have been a little more desperate to get my first shutout. I was just happy to get another win. Right now I'm just happy to have that winning feeling."
Who's Hot: Canucks forward Ryan Kesler has 17 points in his last 16 games. … Dustin Penner has enjoyed multi-point games in two of his last five contests for Edmonton.
Injury Report: Vancouver forward Mikael Samuelsson will miss 2-3 weeks with a shoulder injury. Steve Bernier (sports hernia), Willie Mitchell (concussion) and Alexandre Bolduc (shoulder) are also out. … Nikolai Khabibulin (back), Ales Hemsky (shoulder), Ryan Stone (knee), Sheldon Souray (hand), Ladislav Smid (neck), J.F. Jacques (back), Ryan Jones (knee), Theo Peckham (shoulder) are all out. Patrick O'Sullivan (hand) is day-to-day.
Stat Pack: Edmonton needs seven more points in its final 10 games to avoid tying its worst record in franchise history. The Oilers had 60 points in 1992-93, which was an 84-game season.
Puck Drop: "It's a relief, yes, to have another core player under contract for a significant period of time, and we hope this is going to drive him to be even better, and help us win a championship." -- Canucks GM Mike Gillis after signing Ryan Kesler to a five-year extension
-- Brian Compton, NHL.com