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VANCOUVER CANUCKS (37-26-10) at
EDMONTON OILERS (37-32-5)
Start Time: 7:08 p.m. MDT
Television: Rogers Sportsnet West
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com. Game Notes | Oilers/Canucks Stats Comparison | Player Head-to-Head Statistics Tonight, as the Edmonton Oilers take on the Vancouver Canucks, is the biggest game of the season.
However, with eight games left on the schedule and each game against a Northwest Division opponent, every game from here on out could lay claim to the title of biggest game of the season.
With their 8-4 win on Tuesday against the Phoenix Coyotes, the Oilers are now five points behind the Canucks in the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They are also five points behind Calgary and Colorado as all three teams are tied for sixth place.
LAST GAME: Oilers 8 Coyotes 4
Edmonton has two games left against each of Vancouver, Calgary and Colorado so despite what is still a steep climb to get into the top eight they largely control their own destiny. A win tonight moves them within three points of the Canucks and with Colorado visiting Calgary this evening, they would be guaranteed to gain ground on at least one of those teams.
Since losing three straight in mid-February, the Oilers have a record of 10-2-0 in their last 12 games. Vancouver is 5-4-2 in that same time.
This is the seventh of eight meetings this season between Edmonton and Vancouver. Each team has won three times previously.
Just The Facts...
Pre-game comments from Staios, Stortini, Gagner, Smid, Garon & MacTavish: 700K Pre-Game Audio... Pre-Game vs. Vancouver: Steve Staios
Pre-Game vs. Vancouver: Ladislav Smid
Pre-Game vs. Vancouver: Zack Stortini
Pre-Game vs. Vancouver: Sam Gagner
Pre-Game vs. Vancouver: Mathieu Garon
Pre-Game vs. Vancouver: Craig MacTavish
Listen to all: Staios, Gagner, Garon, Smid, Stortini and MacTavish
Wednesday's Audio: Mar 19 Off Day: Matt Greene
Mar 19 Off Day: Robert Nilsson
Mar 19 Off Day: Curtis Glencross
Mar 19 Off Day: Mathieu Garon
Mar 19 Off Day: Tom Gilbert
Mar 19 Off Day: Sam Gagner
Mar 19 Off Day: Kyle Brodziak
Mar 19 Off Day: Andrew Cogliano
Mar 19 Off Day: Craig MacTavish
Wednesday's Video: Brodziak, Nilsson, Glencross, Cogliano, Gilbert, Gagner, Greene & MacTavish all spoke with the media on Wednesday: 700K The Other Side
Watching the race - The Canucks sit in sixth place in the Western Conference with nine games remaining - all of which are against Northwest Division opponents. Here's a quick look at the stretch drive and how the race is shaking down. ...more Why Not? - The Vancouver Canucks have been questioned all season: Who’s going to score the goals? Why can’t they score enough goals? Why are they so inconsistent? How are they going to overcome the injuries? ...more Raymond gone for four - Mason Raymond will remain out of the Vancouver line-up for at least four weeks recovering from a second-degree sprained MCL that was incurred earlier this week. The borderline blow ends the speedsters encouraging rookie campaign ...more From the Fans
Click here to read tonight's gameday thread on the Oilers message board. Odds and Ends
Cogliano's goal voted play of the week - Andrew Cogliano's record-setting third straight overtime goal on March 11 against the St. Louis Blues was voted by fans as the play of the week. Follow the link to see the top three plays as voted by you the fans. ...more From the Wire
A losing streak last month nearly dashed the Edmonton Oilers' hopes of returning to the playoffs. A recent surge, though, has them back in the thick of the race.
Looking to further their postseason push, the Oilers will try for their fourth straight win when they host the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.
Edmonton (37-32-5) suffered a three-game slide from Feb. 16-22 that dropped the team to 14th place in the Western Conference. Since then, the Oilers have gone 10-2-0 to move to 10th place - one point behind Nashville and five back of Vancouver, Calgary and Colorado - three teams tied for sixth in the West.
The Oilers opened a four-game homestand with an 8-4 win over Phoenix on Tuesday. Curtis Glencross scored two third-period goals and Ales Hemsky contributed three assists for Edmonton, which has won three straight and six of the last seven.
"We were in a pretty bad situation not too long ago and made a commitment to each other and everybody has followed through with it," defenseman Steve Staios said. "We weren't feeling that good about how we were playing but no one went into panic mode. We had confidence that if we got back to our game that we could make a run."
Rookie Sam Gagner added a goal and two assists, while Dwayne Roloson turned aside 26 shots in his third straight start for Edmonton, which scored eight goals for the first time since an 8-5 win over Columbus on Jan. 13, 2003.
For the Oilers to reach the playoffs for the eighth time in 11 seasons after missing the 2006-07 postseason, they must capitalize on their eight remaining games - all against conference foes.
Two of those matchups are against the Canucks (37-26-10), who have won two straight and five of seven as they seek to reach their sixth postseason in seven years.
Henrik Sedin scored two goals, and twin brother Daniel Sedin assisted on both to give the Canucks a 3-1 home victory over Phoenix on Monday.
"If you don't score and you're supposed to score, it's always nice to get some goals," said Henrik Sedin, who had been kept off the scoresheet in his previous four games. "We got some bounces and went to the net a little bit more (Monday night) and the whole team played better so it makes it easier."
Roberto Luongo made 25 saves to improve to 5-2-0 with a 2.35 goals-against average in his last seven starts. He is 3-0-2 with a shutout and a 1.74 GAA in five starts against the Oilers in 2007-08.
The Canucks are 3-0-3 in the season series, but have lost two of three meetings at Rexall Place, where the Oilers have won nine of their last 10 games overall.
Roloson is 11-11-2 with five ties, four shutouts and a 2.28 GAA in 33 lifetime games against Vancouver.
Vancouver will be without rookie left wing Mason Raymond for four weeks after he suffered a second-degree MCL sprain on a knee-on-knee hit in Monday's win.