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EDMONTON OILERS (21-22-5) at
CAROLINA HURRICANES (22-23-4)
Start Time: 5:08 p.m. MST
Television: Rogers Sportsnet West
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com. Game Notes | Oilers/Hurricanes Stats Comparison | Player Head-to-Head Statistics Two teams in very similar positions and situations meet tonight at the RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The Edmonton Oilers sit with 47 points through 48 games this season while tonight's opponent, the Carolina Hurricanes, have 48 points in 49 games. However, because the Oilers are in the Northwest Division and Western Conference they are six points out of a playoff spot while the Hurricanes are one point out of the division lead in the Southeast Division.
Both teams played last night and had to travel to Raleigh following the game so neither club will have any sort of travel advantage this evening. Edmonton was defeated 5-4 in a shootout by Washington that saw the showdown go 24 shooters deep until Matt Bradley finally scored for the Capitals. After winning four straight games, the Oilers are now winless in their last two.
LAST GAME: Capitals 5, Oilers 4 (SO)
Carolina fell 5-1 in Ottawa to the Eastern Conference leading Senators last night for their fourth consecutive loss. Overall, the 'Canes are 2-7-1 in their last 10 games and going even further back 11-19-1 since mid-November.
This is the only meeting of the season between these two clubs. The last time they met, the Oilers won 3-1 in Edmonton in December of last season. Just The Facts...
Pre-Game Audio... Will be available later today. The Other Side Oilers vs. Hurricanes Pre-Game Skate - All the information you need from a Carolina Hurricanes point of view for tonight's game. ...more East Beasts Keep 'Canes at Bay - Unable to regain sole possession of the Southeast Division lead, the Hurricanes fell to the Eastern Conference-leading Ottawa Senators, losing 5-1 at Scotiabank Place. Ray Whitney's power play goal was the lone score for Carolina ...more From the Fans
Click here to read tonight's gameday thread on the Oilers message board. Odds and Ends
Nominees for top plays - There were plenty of outstanding plays during the back end of the Oilers' recently concluded five-game homestand. Follow the link to vote for your favourites to get them in the running for the top play of 2007-08! ...more From the Wire
The last time the Edmonton Oilers visited the Carolina Hurricanes, the Stanley Cup went to the winner. This time, the prize will merely be the end of a losing streak.
The struggling Hurricanes hope to avoid their fifth straight loss Friday when the Oilers - losers of their last two games - visit the RBC Center.
The Hurricanes' (22-23-4) current four-game losing streak is already their longest of the season. Carolina has also dropped four in a row at home and eight of 10 overall, allowing at least four goals seven times over that span.
When Atlanta earned a point in a shootout loss to Montreal on Thursday, Carolina fell out of first place in the Southeast Division for the first time since Oct. 11.
"It's gut-check time," Hurricanes captain Rod Brind'Amour said. "It's not easy when your confidence is a little shaken. You can tell that we're not making plays that maybe we were at the start of the year but this is the NHL and you've got to bounce back. We've got to find a way to do that."
The current struggles appear to start in net. In a 5-1 loss at Ottawa on Thursday, goalie Cam Ward allowed five goals for the second straight start. He's played in all four games of the current skid and has a 4.86 goals-against average over that span.
Against Edmonton in the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals, Ward had a 2.28 GAA in seven starts, leading the Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup and capping off his run to the Conn Smythe Trophy as postseason MVP.
Carolina's goaltending problems extend beyond Ward, however. Earlier this month, the Hurricanes sent backup John Grahame to Albany of the American Hockey League and recalled Michael Leighton, who was pulled Tuesday after allowing three goals in two periods of a 5-4 loss to Toronto.
The Hurricanes' 3.24 team GAA ranks 28th in the league.
That could help the Oilers (21-22-5), who rank 26th in the NHL with 2.42 goals per game. They scored four against Washington on Thursday in regulation time, but were unable to put the puck in the net in 12 rounds of a shootout before losing 5-4.
"It's as deep as I've ever been involved in," Edmonton forward Shawn Horcoff said. "We had plenty of chances there to win it, but we just couldn't."
Goalie Dwayne Roloson stopped 28 shots and the first 11 shootout attempts while playing for the first time in eight games.
Mathieu Garon, who had previously been Roloson's backup, was 5-2-0 with a 2.10 GAA in seven consecutive starts before Thursday, and is likely to play against the Hurricanes.
Despite suffering consecutive losses, Oilers are 4-1-1 in their last six games. Horcoff has at least one point in each of those contests. He had two goals and an assist on Thursday to bring his total to five goals and seven assists during his streak.
Edmonton hasn't been to Raleigh in the regular season since a 1-all tie there Nov. 11, 2001. The Oilers lost three of four games at Carolina during the 2006 Cup finals, including a 3-1 defeat in Game 7 as Ward made 22 saves and Frantisek Kaberle scored the game-winning goal.
Kaberle has no goals and 10 assists in 46 games this season.