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Pre-Game Audio... Pre-Game at Vancouver: Craig MacTavish
Struggling in shootouts has stopped the Vancouver Canucks from putting together any momentum in recent weeks.
The Edmonton Oilers are perhaps the last team they would want to go into another shootout with.
Coming off yet another loss, the Canucks look to snap a three-game skid against the Oilers when the teams meet on Saturday night at GM Place.
A win in this game would move Vancouver (28-22-8) into eighth place in the Western Conference. The reigning Northwest Division champions, though, are just 4-8-4 in their last 16.
Vancouver had a chance to win consecutive games for the first time since Jan. 3-8, but lost 5-4 in a shootout against Minnesota on Thursday. Four of the Canucks' last six games have gone into shootouts with three resulting in losses.
Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault was looking at the positives even though his team blew a 3-2 third-period lead to the Wild.
"We've gotten points in five of our last six games so I think we're slowly but surely turning the corner here," he said. "We're right there I believe."
But a second straight playoff appearance seems unlikely if the Canucks continue to struggle in shootouts. They're 5-8 in games that have gone past overtime this season, and have lost three straight such contests to the Oilers (27-27-5).
Edmonton, which is a league-best 12-3 in shootouts, has been able to bounce back in the season series with Vancouver after losing the first two meetings. The Oilers have won four of their last five overall, and a win Saturday would move them within three points of the ninth-place Canucks in the West.
Mathieu Garon has been outstanding in goal for Edmonton in its last three games versus Vancouver, turning away 10 of the Canucks' 12 shootout attempts. On Thursday night, Garon held San Jose scoreless on eight power-play attempts as the Oilers held off the Sharks 3-2.
Garon is 4-1-0 with a 1.61 goals-against average in his last five games, and 3-1-0 with a 2.20 GAA in four contests against Vancouver this season.
The Oilers also have backed Garon with strong offensive efforts, scoring 16 goals in their last four wins. Ales Hemsky, Kyle Brodziak and Fernando Pisani all found the back of the net versus San Jose.
Hemsky, playing with a sore wrist the past four weeks, scored his 15th goal. The fifth-year forward is four goals shy of tying his career high, set in 2005-06.
After missing 26 games at the start of the season with colitis, Pisani has scored three goals in his last five games, doubling his total to six. His goal early in the third period Thursday left Edmonton two tallies short of the 8,000th regular-season goal in franchise history.
Vancouver, meanwhile, lost Thursday despite scoring more than three goals in regulation for the first time since a 5-3 win over Calgary on Dec. 27.
Alexander Edler scored twice, and Brad Isbister and Ryan Kesler also found the back of the net against the Wild.
Edler, a second-year defenseman, scored two goals in a game for the first time in his career. His second goal sent the game into overtime.