|EDM||1||1||1||(0 - 0)||3|
|VAN||0||1||1||(0 - 0)||2|
TIME: Saturday, 10 p.m. EST.
Having moved ahead of their Northwest Division rivals in the playoff chase, the Canucks look to finish off a sweep of three consecutive games against the Oilers as these teams conclude their season series.
Edmonton had won all five meetings this season with Vancouver heading into Tuesday's matchup at Rexall Place. The Oilers won that game 4-1, and two days later when the teams met at GM Place, Edmonton pulled out a 4-3 shootout victory.
The Canucks had lost six of seven before this three-game series. The two victories have moved them one point ahead of Edmonton, which now clings to the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference.
"Those points at the end are crucial for us," said Markus Naslund, who tied Thursday's game 8:24 into the third and scored the first of Vancouver's three straight shootout goals.
"Hopefully we'll look back on this as the turning point."
This week certainly will be considered a turning point if the Canucks complete a sweep of the Oilers, who are only one point ahead of Los Angeles and two up on San Jose for the West's final postseason berth.
Edmonton, which has lost seven of nine, has fallen into a 2-0 hole in each of the last two games. The Oilers struggled to get back into Tuesday's game but came back Thursday to take a 3-2 lead in the second period, when they outshot the Canucks 15-5.
"I like the way we battled back and we still get a point out of it but going into Saturday we know we've got to win," said Edmonton's Raffi Torres, who has scored seven goals in seven games against Vancouver this season.
The Oilers are scoreless in 15 power-play opportunities over the last three games, and have failed to score more than three goals in 12 consecutive contests.
While Edmonton got defenseman Dick Tarnstrom back in the lineup Thursday after he missed five games with a groin injury, winger Radek Dvorak sat out with an injured hip flexor and his status for this contest is uncertain.
STANDINGS: Oilers - 80 points, 4th place, 6 PB, Northwest Division. Canucks - 82 points, 3rd place, 4 PB, Northwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Oilers - Ryan Smyth, 31 goals; Ales Hemsky, 51 assists; Shawn Horcoff, 68 points; Jaroslav Spacek, 90 PIM. Canucks - Naslund, 30 goals; Henrik Sedin, 51 assists and 69 points; Jarkko Ruutu, 118 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Oilers - Power play: 17.7 percent (76 for 429), 17th in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.3 percent (354 for 425), 13th. Canucks - Power play: 17.9 percent (83 for 464), 14th (tied). Penalty killing: 82.3 percent (371 for 451), 15th (tied).
GOALTENDERS: Oilers - Dwayne Roloson (8-20-4, 1 SO, 3.01 GAA); Jussi Markkanen (15-12-6, 3.13). Canucks - Alex Auld (30-21-4, 2.92); Mika Noronen (1-3-0, 4.16).
SEASON SERIES: Oilers, 5-2.
LAST MEETING: Thursday; Canucks, 4-3 (SO). At Vancouver, British Columbia, Todd Bertuzzi opened the scoring in regulation, assisted on Naslund's goal and scored the shootout clincher.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Oilers - 18-11-6 on the road; Canucks - 21-8-4 at home.