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At the Rink: Oilers at Canucks

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER — Edmonton Oilers rookie center Connor McDavid is coming off a breakout game, scoring two goals with an assist in a 5-2 win against the Calgary Flames on Saturday.

The Vancouver Canucks are hoping to counter with a breakout game from a new-look line of young forwards of their own against the Oilers on Sunday (9 p.m. ET; SN).

Sven Baertschi will be in the Canucks lineup after being a healthy scratch the past two games. He will play on a line with 20-year-old center Bo Horvat and 19-year-old right wing Jake Virtanen. That line combined for three goals and 10 points in a 5-2 win against the Oilers in the preseason but hasn't played together since.

"I just think we fed off each other," Horvat said. "The chemistry was there right away, we kind of knew where each other was on the ice and where each other was going to be. It just made the game a lot easier and hopefully we can do that again tonight."

Horvat had two goals and an assist in that exhibition win, Baertschi had four assists, and Virtanen scored a power-play goal and had two assists. The three of them have two points combined in the regular season, though.

Baertschi downplayed expectations based on their preseason performance, but Virtanen admitted they are looking forward to playing together again.

"We're all pretty excited, all three of us, so it should be fun," Virtanen said.

Only three Oilers skated in Vancouver the morning after their first win this season: Defensemen Andrew Ference and Brandon Davidson, who were healthy scratches in Calgary, and No.1 goalie Cam Talbot, who will back up Anders Nilsson on Sunday.

The Canucks will try to slow down McDavid.

"He had a breakout game so he's going to be brewing with confidence and out there flying," Horvat said.

Oilers coach Todd McLellan said Matt Hendricks won't play because of an undisclosed injury. Anton Slepyshev, who was a healthy scratch against the Flames, will take Hendricks' spot on the right side of the top line with Taylor Hall and center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

"He's been one of our top players, as far as the details and the grunt work goes," McLellan said of Hendricks. "That means a lot to our group. He stirred the drink, I think, for our whole team, (Nugent-Hopkin's) line in particular. We're going to miss him tonight because he is not playing. It's as simple as that. Somebody else is going to have to step up and provide us a little bit of that chemistry and that stirring of the drink."

Here are the projected lineups:


Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Anton Slepyshev

Benoit Pouliot - Connor McDavid - Nail Yakupov

Lauri Korpikoski - Anton Lander - Teddy Purcell

Rob Klinkhammer - Mark Letestu - Luke Gazdic

Andrej Sekera - Mark Fayne

Justin Schultz - Oscar Klefbom

Griffin Reinhart - Eric Gryba

Anders Nilsson

Cam Talbot

Injured: Jordan Eberle (shoulder), Matt Hendricks (undisclosed)

Scratched: Andrew Ference, Brandon Davidson


Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Radim Vrbata

Sven Baertschi - Bo Horvat - Jake Virtanen

Alexandre Burrows - Brandon Sutter - Jannik Hansen

Brandon Prust - Adam Cracknell - Derek Dorsett

Alexander Edler - Christopher Tanev

Dan Hamhuis - Matt Bartkowski

Ben Hutton - Luca Sbisa

Ryan Miller

Richard Bachman

Scratched: Yannick Weber

Injured: Jared McCann (undisclosed), Chris Higgins (foot), Jacob Markstrom (hamstring)

Status report: The undisclosed injury McCann sustained in a 4-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Friday played a role in the Canucks lineup changes, with Sutter moving back to his natural center position after starting the season on the right side of the top line with Daniel and Henrik Sedin. … Vrbata, who is scoreless in five games after leading Vancouver with 31 goals last season, will play with the Sedins for the first time this season. … McCann skated Sunday after missing practice Saturday, but coach Willie Desjardins did not think he would be ready to play against the Oilers.

Who's hot: Sutter has five points in five games.

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