The Northwest Division-leading Vancouver Canucks hope to end a difficult four-game road trip with a .500 record on Saturday night, but they might want to avoid having to win in a shootout against the Edmonton Oilers.
The Canucks (17-12-3) started this six-day trip with a 4-2 loss to Los Angeles on Monday before beating Anaheim 3-2 two days later. They failed to build on any momentum created from the win over the reigning Stanley Cup champion Ducks by losing 5-2 to San Jose in a sloppy performance Thursday.
"We weren't sharp at all," said Vancouver captain Markus Naslund, who is second on the team with 11 goals but has not scored in eight games. "We didn't play like we had anything in it. All along, we've said we weren't going to use any excuses, about injuries or scheduling."
The Canucks are in the midst of playing seven games in 11 days. After visiting Edmonton (15-16-2), Vancouver gets two days off before hosting New Jersey.
Until then, the Canucks are likely to be without goaltender Roberto Luongo (rib) for a fourth consecutive game and center Brendan Morrison (wrist) for a third. Luongo might be back against the Devils, while there is no timetable set for Morrison's return.
With those two players sidelined, Vancouver could use some more production out of leading goal-scorer Daniel Sedin, who was held to just one shot Thursday and has only scored four times in the last 14 games.
He's been held pointless in the last two contests against the Oilers - both losses - after getting nine goals and six assists as Vancouver won the previous seven meetings. Sedin didn't register a shot in a 5-4 shootout defeat at Edmonton on Nov. 20.
The Canucks are 0-3 in shootouts this season with two coming against Edmonton.
The Oilers, who are last in the Northwest but only five points back of Vancouver, are looking for their third consecutive victory and they might feel more comfortable if the game goes to a shootout.
They lead the NHL with nine shootout wins, including Tuesday's 5-4 victory at St. Louis and Thursday's 4-3 win in Detroit.
Edmonton is three shootout wins short of the NHL record set by Dallas in 2005-06. Five teams tied for the league lead with 10 last season.
"I'm at a loss to explain it, really," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. "When you've had that much success, you're pretty relaxed going into it. I think that helps the shooters, knowing that."
Ales Hemsky leads the league with five shootout goals in nine attempts. He scored the winner against Dominik Hasek on Thursday after netting his 10th goal of the season in the first period.
Hemsky has eight points in his last six games and 14 in his past 11 contests. He had two assists against Vancouver on Nov. 20.
These teams have split their first four meetings of the season.