Season series – It’s the fourth of six meetings between the Northwest Division rivals, and Vancouver has won each of the first three. The Canucks won 4-3 and 2-1 at Edmonton before edging the Oilers 3-2 at Rogers Arena on Boxing Day.
Big story – Can anyone stop the Vancouver juggernaut? The Canucks were outplayed badly by Calgary on Wednesday, but still managed a 3-1 win at Rogers Arena thanks to a 43-save performance by Roberto Luongo. The Oilers come to town to start a five-game trip off their first victory in eight games, a shaky 2-1 victory against the New York Islanders in which they scored two early goals and hung on for the last two-plus periods.
Oilers – Edmonton brought the NHL’s worst penalty-killing unit into the game against the Islanders, a team that had gone 2-for-2 in each of its last two games. But the Oilers responded with their best night of the season on the PK, killing off all seven chances by the Isles and even getting a shorthanded goal.
"I think the last four or five games we have been getting better on our penalty kill," Oilers coach Tom Renney said. "Tonight was kind of the capper. It won us the hockey game."
The Oilers’ penalty-killers will be tested again – Vancouver is second in the NHL on the power play.
Canucks – You don’t put together a 12-0-2 streak without contributions from everyone, and on Wednesday it was Luongo’s turn. Luongo has seen some of his playing time eaten away by backup Cory Schneider, but showed why the Canucks signed him to a long-term, big-money deal when he doused the Flames.
“I know he’s not too happy, so I don’t say too much, but I just told him he played a great game,” forward Alex Burrows told the Canucks’ website. “That’s the bottom line -- that he had a great game tonight and he’s got to look at the good things he did tonight and all the saves and the way he battled tonight instead of thinking about the last goal.”
Who’s hot – Schneider has yet to lose in regulation – he’s 7-0-2 while backing up Luongo. … Edmonton’s Dustin Penner has 7 points in his last six games, including an assist and the game-winning goal on Thursday.
Injury report – Edmonton rookie forward Jordan Eberle, already out with an ankle injury, underwent an emergency appendectomy on Wednesday night. Defenseman Jim Vandermeer left Thursday’s game with an ankle injury, the same problem that has another defenseman, Ryan Whitney, on the shelf indefinitely. Forward Gilbert Brule, who scored the first goal on Thursday, won't play due to what coach Tom Renney called "a bruised abdomen or chest." … The Canucks are still without defenseman Sami Salo, who's skating again but not ready to come back after tearing an Achilles tendon during the summer.
Stat pack – Ryan Kesler’s goal against Calgary was his 20th of the season, making the Canucks the first team to have a pair of 20-goal scorers. Daniel Sedin already has 21.
Puck drop – Daniel Sedin’s second-period goal on Wednesday was the Canucks’ 10,000th in regular-season play. In all, 354 players have combined to score those 10,000 goals. Colin
Campbell is among the 43 players who have exactly one goal as a Canuck; Markus Naslund has the franchise record with 346.