The Edmonton Oilers have been relying heavily on their top line for goals. That line has struggled this season, though, when facing the Vancouver Canucks.
With a chance to gain ground in the Northwest Division, the Oilers look to snap a three-game losing streak against the Canucks when the teams continue their season series Tuesday.
Edmonton (26-23-4) is six points behind Vancouver (29-20-4), which is tied with Minnesota for both third place in the Northwest and the seventh seed in the Western Conference.
"If we can put a stretch of games together now and put us within striking distance, we're going to be in a good situation," Oilers forward Shawn Horcoff said.
Edmonton has struggled against the rival Canucks this season, going 2-3-1 through six games of the eight-game season series, including an 0-2-1 mark in the last three meetings. The Oilers have just one power-play goal in 34 chances (2.9 percent) against the Canucks in 2006-07.
Horcoff, Ryan Smyth and Ales Hemsky - who compose the Oilers' top line - have totaled just two goals and seven points in the season series. Smyth (broken thumb) and Hemsky (shoulder) missed Edmonton's last victory over Vancouver, a 4-0 win on Dec. 4.
The trio has carried the team lately, accounting for eight of Edmonton's 12 goals in three wins over its last four games. Production from the line may be even more vital, with center Jarret Stoll sidelined after suffering a concussion in a 5-3 loss at Vancouver on Thursday night.
Stoll missed the Oilers' 3-2 win at Colorado on Saturday.
Horcoff, Smyth and Hemsky each scored in that game to lift Edmonton over the Avalanche - the last-place team in the Northwest - and Smyth and Horcoff each added an assist. Oilers goaltender Dwayne Roloson made 37 saves to end his personal three-game losing streak.
"We're going to have to win a lot of these down the stretch," Horcoff said. "It's going to be important for us to win divisional games."
Vancouver lost 4-3 at Calgary on Saturday night, missing a chance to overtake the Flames atop the Northwest and dropping to 10-11-2 in division games.
"We had a real poor performance in probably our biggest game of the year, it's inexcusable," Canucks captain Markus Naslund said.
It was only Vancouver's second loss in regulation since Dec. 26. Twelve of its 29 total wins have come since then.
Taylor Pyatt, Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin scored for the Canucks, who went 0-for-5 with the man advantage and are 0-for-12 on the power play in the last two games.
Pyatt has been outstanding in his last nine games, recording six goals and 11 points in that span. He has managed just one goal and no assists against the Oilers this season, however.
Sedin has three goals and five points in his last four games. He also has three goals and five points in his last three contests versus Edmonton.