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Canucks aim to end Oilers' winning streak

by Brian Compton

OILERS (16-13-7) at CANUCKS (19-11-6)


Last 10: Edmonton 6-2-2; Vancouver 6-4-0.

Season series: This is the fourth of five meetings. The Edmonton Oilers are 2-0-1 against the Vancouver Canucks this season.

Big story: The trade deadline passed at 3 p.m. ET on Wednesday, and Roberto Luongo remained a member of the Canucks.

With 10 years and $64 million remaining on his deal, Canucks general manager Mike Gillis was unable to move the veteran goaltender before the deadline. While the Toronto Maple Leafs appeared to be the most interested in Luongo’s services, the contract was simply too much to bear.

"My contract sucks," Luongo said bluntly Wednesday afternoon. "That's what the problem is, and unfortunately it's a big factor in trading me and it's probably why I am still here."

"We've been close a number of times," Gillis said. "Thought we were confident in getting something done, but it didn't come together."

Team scope:

Oilers: While Edmonton might not have fresh legs when the puck drops, they’re heading to Vancouver with plenty of momentum. The Oilers won their fifth straight Wednesday night, erasing a 2-0 deficit by scoring eight unanswered goals en route to an 8-2 victory against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Taylor Hall led the way with a goal and four assists, while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins added a goal and three assists.

Wednesday’s win gave the Oilers 39 points and moved them into eighth place in the Western Conference playoff race. They’ve outscored their opponents by a 25-7 margin during their winning streak.

"Obviously it's been a few years of rebuilding and we want to take the next step," said Nugent-Hopkins, the No. 1 pick at the 2011 NHL Draft. "We're ready to do that and all of us here are excited about this opportunity that we have. We're ready to make a playoff push."

Canucks: Vancouver will attempt to avoid a three-game skid Thursday night after suffering a 3-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion on Monday. The Canucks were faced with a 3-0 deficit midway through the second period as Andrew Desjardins, Joe Thornton and Logan Couture all scored in a span of 2:13, but Chris Higgins scored late in the period and Alexandre Burrows found the back of the net midway through the third.

But Vancouver couldn’t find the equalizer. Alain Vigneault’s club enters Thursday’s action tied with the Minnesota Wild atop the Northwest Division standings at 44 points apiece, although the Wild are technically ahead due to possessing a game in hand.

"That was the game right there," Burrows told The Vancouver Sun regarding the Sharks' three quick tallies. "But I like how we responded; we responded much better than we did against Edmonton. We showed some character and tried to come back.

"We've got to be realistic. You look at our lineup; we've had a lot of young players taking their first steps in the NHL. If you start running and gunning with this kind of roster ... I'd rather try to play well defensively and not have those two or three minutes like we did tonight."

Who’s hot: Hall brings a six-game points streak to Rogers Arena. He has seven goals, eight assists and a plus-9 rating over that span. In the past five games, Nugent-Hopkins has a goal and nine assists, while Jordan Eberle is 5-3-8 and they’re both plus-9 over the stretch. As a trio, Hall, Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle have combined for 32 points during Edmonton’s five-game win streak. … Burrows has three goals and an assist in the past five games for Vancouver.

Injury report: Eric Belanger (groin) is day-to-day for the Oilers, while Andy Sutton (knee) is out indefinitely. … The Canucks are likely to be without Keith Ballard (foot), Dale Weise (shoulder), Zack Kassian (back), David Booth (groin) and Ryan Kesler (shoulder surgery).

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