The Vancouver Canucks (27-17-9) are back to work tonight when they host the Edmonton Oilers (16-32-6).
After last night’s 5-4 win over Phoenix, the Canucks are 9-2-3 in their last 14 games on home ice. The five-goal outburst was the most offense the Canucks have generated in a game since a 6-2 win over Boston on December 14th.
Kevin Bieksa scored twice last night including the overtime winner. The output doubled the veteran defenseman’s season goal total to four and produced his first game-winning goal of the campaign. The two-goal performance was the first for a Canuck since Ryan Kesler scored twice in back-to-back games December 1st in Carolina and December 3rd in Nashville.
Kesler logged 26:40 last night and now leads all NHL forwards in total time on ice this season (1180:12) and average time per game (22:16). His past four games are among his top seven ice-times of the season.
Chris Higgins had a goal and two assists in a season-high 24:52 of ice-time last night. Higgins is now second on the team with 14 goals on the season. He has scored in back to back games. Zac Dalpe had his first multiple point game as a Canuck (1+1=2) and led all forwards with four shots last night.
Jordan Schroeder is expected to make his return to the Canucks line-up for the first time since suffering an ankle injury in Pittsburgh on October 19th. Schroeder played two games for the Canucks Utica farm team in Abbotsford over the weekend. It appears Dale Weise will come out of the line-up to make room for Schroeder. Roberto Luongo will make his fifth consecutive start in goal.
The Canucks power play continues to be a pressing issue. It went 0/4 generating just one shot and allowed a short-handed goal against the Coyotes. The Canucks are now 2/34 (5.9%) in the past nine games and the power play has dropped to 28th in the league (14.0%).
The Canucks are 3-0 against the Oilers outscoring their Alberta rivals 12-3 in the season series. Jason Garrison leads all skaters with 1+4=5 in the head-to-head match-ups.
Edmonton is also playing back to back games after a 5-1 win on home ice over Nashville last night. The victory snapped a six-game losing streak (0-5-1). Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle were among the Edmonton goal scorers while newcomer Ben Scrivens stopped 34 shots for his first win as an Oiler.
Eberle has 4+2=6 on a five-game point streak and his next point will be the 200th of his NHL career. With 383 career markers, Ryan Smyth needs one goal to join the NHL’s top-100 goal scorers.
David Perron leads the Oilers with 19 goals this season while Taylor Hall has the team lead with 50 points (18+32).
The Oilers are without captain Andrew Ference (head) and forward Ales Hemsky (foot). Edmonton has given up a league-high 186 goals (3.44 per game).
Ilya Bryzgalov is expected to be between the pipes for the Oilers.