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Canucks end regular season in Edmonton

by Kevin Woodley

CANUCKS (26-14-7) at OILERS (18-22-7)


Last 10: Vancouver 6-3-1; Edmonton 2-8-0

Season series: The teams have split the season equally heading into the finale on Saturday. The Edmonton Oilers opened with a 3-2 shootout win on Jan. 20 and the Vancouver Canucks responded with a 3-2 overtime victory on Feb. 4. The Oilers shut out Vancouver 4-0 on March 30, and the Canucks countered with a 4-0 blanking on April 4.

Big story: Neither team has much to play for in the standings, but after the Canucks beat them regularly during a five-year reign as the Northwest Division champions, the Oilers can at least salvage the season series with a win in their final game of the season.

Team Scope:

Oilers: Edmonton will miss the playoffs for the seventh straight season since going to the Stanley Cup Final in 2006, but after playing spoiler against the Minnesota Wild on Friday night, the Oilers can at least close out the season on a positive note against an old rival.

"Minnesota's beat us a lot the three years I've been here," Taylor Hall said after the 6-1 victory in St. Paul. "We came here to spoil their party and we did."

The Canucks don't have a party planned, but like Minnesota have beaten the Oilers regularly for a long time, something Edmonton can use as a rallying cry.

Canucks: Vancouver did an about face on game day by deciding to rest most of their top players in the season finale after intimating otherwise the day before.

Captain Henrik Sedin will play, but only to maintain a 628-game ironman streak that is second only to St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester among active players and seventh all time. Henrik isn't expected to play much, not with twin brother Daniel Sedin and regular linemate Alexandre Burrows both sitting out to rest, and being replaced by recent healthy scratches Steven Pinizzotto and Dale Weise on his wings.

Top defensemen Alexander Edler, Jason Garrison and Dan Hamhuis also appear destined for the press box in the finale, though fellow top-four defender Kevin Bieksa, who has missed the past five games with an undisclosed injury, is expected to return.

"He looked good and, if I was a betting man, I would say he would probably be coming into the lineup," coach Alain Vigneault said Friday. "I think health-wise, he's fine. He's had some good practices, so his best thing is probably to play."

The Canucks will still be without No. 1 goaltender Cory Schneider, who is resting a minor, undisclosed injury, but still expected to be ready for the playoffs.

Who's hot: For the Oilers, forward Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall each had a goal and two assists against the Wild, giving Eberle seven points in his past five games after going scoreless for six games. Hall moved into the top-20 in NHL scoring. … For the Canucks, there aren't a lot of individual streaks, but the power play has scored nine goals in the last 11 games, clicking around 25 percent during that stretch after succeeding at about half that rate for most of the season.

Injury report: Schneider is resting an undisclosed injury but should be ready when the playoffs open next week. Defenseman Chris Tanev (ankle) skated Thursday but may not be ready to start the playoffs. Center Manny Malhotra (eye) and left wing David Booth (ankle) are out for the season. … Oilers defenseman Ryan Whitney didn't play Friday after injuring his leg Wednesday against Chicago and is questionable. Defenseman Theo Peckham (flu) and forward Ales Hemsky (foot) are doubtful after missing Friday's game. Forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is out for the season with a shoulder injury. Forward Lennart Petrell (leg) and Andy Sutton (knee) are out indefinitely.

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