Preview | Game Notes | Head-to-Head | Stats Comparison | Line Combos | Injury Report | Set Fantasy Lineup
AT THE MORNING SKATE
The Oilers started their strive for a fifth straight win with a skate at Rexall Place Tuesday morning. As Ales Hemsky remains out of the line-up due to groin injury, there were no changes to the team's forward lines.
Nikolai Khabibulin was the first goalie off the ice, signalling that he will start tonight's game vs. Anaheim. It will be the veteran goaltender's third straight start since returning from injury, and with only one goal allowed on 65 shots, he's looking to continue his excellent play.
The visiting team won't be taking it easy on the Oilers netminder. Having been shutout in their past two games, the Ducks will be desperate to light the lamp tonight.
Oilers head coach Tom Renney isn't taking his struggling opponents lightly.
"I think this is the type of team that can counter-attack and really bite you bad in the offensive zone if you're not moving the puck properly," he said. "They've got some guys that know how to score and create offense in different ways."
"We'd love to play error-free of course and keep them off the scoreboard again, but that's just sort of a five-minute-at-a-time job for us. I think the big thing for us is just to make sure we play five at a time well."
STRETCHING THE STREAK
Riding high on four straight wins, the Oilers are a confident bunch heading into tonight's game. But the players and coaches are honest about the learning process and admit that there is plenty of room for improvement.
"You have to lose, so to say, before you win, and you have to go through some tough streaks," captain Shawn Horcoff said after the skate. "Going into games, you have to be able to think that you can beat any team on any given night, especially at home. We're a long ways away from that yet but we feel like we're starting to figure out what it's going to take to be able to get in that situation."
A positive environment is key to creating positive results on the ice, Renney added.
"We have our stretches where we're not very good -- we have to understand that and embrace correcting that. But attitude is the one thing that you can control every single day and that's something that we've tried to work on here.
"We can be our own worst enemy if we're not careful, and we certainly want to make sure that we avoid that as much as possible."
Former Ducks Ryan Whitney and Dustin Penner are especially looking forward to tonight's contest.
"They're always a fun team to play; they've got some pretty dynamic forwards," Whitney explained. "They've been a little inconsistent, but they've played real well at stretches so it's up to us to kind of have a good effort again."
Tonight's game starts at 7:30pm and is presented by Air Canada.
-- Jen Sharpe, edmontonoilers.com
Last 10: Anaheim 3-6-1; Edmonton 6-3-1
Season series -- Second of four meetings this season. Edmonton snapped a six-game losing streak in the first meeting on Nov. 21 in Anaheim as second-year goalie Devan Dubnyk made 38 saves. Ales Hemsky's goal 13:29 into the third snapped a 2-2 tie before Tom Gilbert hit into an empty net to seal the victory for the Oilers.
Big story -- Oilers rookie Taylor Hall scored his second game-winning goal of the season in dramatic fashion on Saturday when the No. 1 pick in the 2010 Entry Draft connected 23 seconds into overtime to secure a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues. Hall has 6 goals in his last eight games. The victory extended Edmonton's winning streak to four games.
Ducks -- The Ducks welcomed right wing Joffrey Lupul back to the lineup on Sunday against Phoenix for the first time since Dec. 8, 2009, after he was cleared to play by team doctors and activated off the club's long-term injury list. Back surgery and a subsequent blood infection kept Lupul out of the lineup. He suffered a setback in July and was forced to stay off the ice for roughly three months. On a conditioning stint for AHL Syracuse, Lupul went 1-3-4 in three games. In his return, Lupul, who began the game on a line with Saku Koivu and Jason Blake, earned 14:28 of ice time, had three shots on goal and a minus-1 rating.
Oilers -- Edmonton utilized three different goalies in recording three straight victories on the road last week. Martin Gerber earned a 4-1 victory over Ottawa behind 22 saves on Nov. 29, Dubnyk stopped 36 shots in a 4-3 overtime triumph in Montreal on Dec. 1 and Nikolai Khabibulin halted 33 shots in a 5-0 verdict over Toronto on Dec. 2. The threesome yielded just four goals on 95 shots. Khabibulin was right back in goal for the team's 2-1 home victory in overtime over the Blues on Saturday and made 31 saves.
Who's hot -- Edmonton defenseman Ryan Whitney has a team-leading 21 points -- all assists. He ranks among the top-10 point-producers in the League and is the only player among the top 30 to not have a goal. … Ducks forward Bobby Ryan has produced 6 goals in his last 6 games and 9 goals and 14 points in his last 16 games.
Injury report -- Edmonton's Alex Hemsky (groin) is day-to-day. … Anaheim right wing Teemu Selanne (groin) is day-to-day.
Stat pack -- Selanne is one of only 18 players in NHL history to score 600 goals (614) and one of only three Europeans, along with Jaromir Jagr (646) of the Czech Republic and Jari Kurri (601) of Finland.
Puck drop -- "It's more or less the same questions, how the first year is going for me and the team," Hall told reporters following his OT winner against the Blues on Saturday. "People are interested in that, it's a good story line. We have three rookies, pretty much a whole line of rookies. Not a lot of teams can say they have that possible future. It's fun. It's good to have a lot of excitement around the team, we're an up and coming team, I think everybody knows that."
-- Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer