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LINEUP UPDATE: Robert Nilsson draws back into the lineup for the Oilers after missing four games with an upper body injury. He is reunited with Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano on the second line... Jason Strudwick will play up front with Marc Pouliot and Zack Stortini. Liam Reddox and Rob Schremp are expected to be healthy scratches... Dwayne Roloson gets the start in goal tonight.
VANCOUVER CANUCKS (16-10-3) at
EDMONTON OILERS (13-12-2)
Start Time: 8:08 p.m. MST
Television: CBC (HD)
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.Today's Game Notes by Marc Ciampa & Steve Knowles | edmontonoilers.com
The Edmonton Oilers look to get back on the winning track tonight when they meet Northwest Division rivals - and division leaders - the Vancouver Canucks.
Edmonton was coming off three consecutive wins before a 2-0 setback (with an empty netter) against the Florida Panthers on Thursday night. This is the second game of a three-game homestand so the club will be looking to right the ship on home ice.
So far at Rexall Place this season, the Oilers have a record of 3-4-3. They have played the fewest number of home games of any team in the NHL but will play predominantly at home for the next month.
Vancouver had an outstanding November during which they picked up points in 10 straight games. However, they let their hold on the division lead slip up with three straight losses after that. Currently, Vancouver is 2-0-1 in their last three.
This is the second of six meetings between the Oilers and Canucks and first of three between the clubs in December. Vancouver won the previous encounter in October by a score of 6-3.
Just The Facts...
Bob Stauffer and Dan Tencer preview tonight's game against the Canucks Pre-game comments from Steve Staios, Ethan Moreau, Sam Gagner, Zack Stortini, Dwayne Roloson and Craig MacTavish The Other Side: Canucks players Kevin Bieksa, Ryan Kesler, Jannik Hansen Pre-Game Audio... Zack Stortini
Stauffer & Tencer Preview Oilers vs. Canucks
Oilers activate Nilsson from IR - General Manager Steve Tambellini announced today the Oilers have activated left wing Robert Nilsson from the NHL Injured Reserve List. Nilsson missed the Oilers last four games after suffering an upper body injury at Dallas on December 3rd. ...more
The Other Side - news from Canucks.com
16 Days of Trevor Linden: Game 7 - The special 16-day initiative will take an in-depth look at Trevor Linden’s career, concluding on December 16th, 2008. Linden impresses, as usual, during the Canucks post-season run. ...more Tale of the Tape: Canucks @ Oilers - The Canucks finish off the longest road trip of the year in Edmonton as they face off against the Northwest rivals for the second time in the regular season. Vancouver looks for a win to conclude the road trip with a .500 record. ...more Luongo experiences setback - Canuck captain Roberto Luongo did not make the trip to Edmonton as originally expected. The injured star goaltender stayed in Vancouver after experiencing pains while making "dynamic movements" at practice. ...more
From the Fans
Click here to read today's gameday thread on the Oilers message board.
Odds and Ends
Sheldon Souray co-hosts The Link - The Link host Crystal Leriger got a little help on set as Sheldon Souray made a special co-hosting appearance Friday, Dec. 12th. See how Sheldon handled his co-hosting duties and how his teammates scored in Souray 101. ...more This or That? with Lubomir Visnovsky - Things aren't always black and white, but we made Lubomir Visnovsky choose Option A or Option B on a variety of topics, including transportation, breakfast foods, and late-December holidays. ...more
From the Wire (AP)
The Vancouver Canucks have gotten inconsistent play in net in recent weeks. Not having your star goaltender available can cause that to happen.
After learning Roberto Luongo will miss more time, the Canucks conclude a season-high seven-game road trip with a matchup against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night.
Luongo strained his groin Nov. 22 in Pittsburgh and appeared to be getting close to coming back. The Canucks captain, though, left Wednesday's practice after only 20 minutes and coach Alain Vigneault said Friday there's no timetable for his return.
"For some time he has been feeling some soreness when he has been doing some dynamic exercises on the ice," Vigneault said on the team's Web site. "It's not going as quickly as we thought.
"Hopefully it's week-to-week instead of weeks-to-weeks. He just needs to back off on the ice."
Vancouver (16-10-3) got off to a good start after Luongo went down, beating Detroit 3-2 in overtime on Nov. 24. The Canucks, though, have gone 2-4-1 since, giving up three goals or more five times.
Curtis Sanford and rookie Cory Schneider have been sharing time in net, and neither player has risen to the challenge. Luongo was 11-5-2 with a 2.17 goals-against average and five shutouts before his injury.
Sanford is expected to get the start against the Oilers (13-12-2), who again struggled offensively at home in losing 2-0 to Florida on Thursday night despite having 41 shots on goal.
Edmonton is 3-4-2 at Rexall Place, scoring two goals or fewer five times.
"We're a young team," defenseman Sheldon Souray said. "We're going to make mistakes, but we certainly don't want to keep repeating the same mistakes. We'll keep working on it. We'll keep hammering the message home. Sooner or later we've got to get it."
One bright spot for Edmonton was the return of center Sam Gagner, who missed two games due to a concussion. Gagner, the sixth pick in the 2007 draft, skated on the fourth line with Liam Reddox and Gilbert Brule.
Gagner, 19, had been skating on the second line before getting hurt, but the Oilers plan on easing him back slowly. As a rookie last season, Gagner had 13 goals and 36 assists in 79 games.
Edmonton could certainly use a boost on offense from Gagner. Vancouver, meanwhile, has scored 14 goals in its last four games.
Defenseman Alexander Edler scored a power-play goal 24 seconds into the third period as the Canucks pulled out a 3-1 win over Nashville on Tuesday night. Vancouver had lost the first three games of its trip, but now has won two of three.
The Canucks have not lost in regulation in their last seven games at Edmonton, going 5-0-2. Vancouver is 9-1-3 overall against the Oilers since the start of 2007, winning 6-3 at home on Oct. 25 in the teams' first meeting this season.