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Canucks start six-game trip in Edmonton

by Davis Harper
CANUCKS (37-15-6) at OILERS (22-29-6)

TV: SNET-Pacific (HD), SNET-West

LAST 10 : Vancouver 8-0-2; Edmonton 4-6-0

Season Series: It's the fifth of six meetings between these two teams, with the home team prevailing in each of the first four. However, both Edmonton wins came in October, when the young Oilers were tearing through the League. Vancouver has won the most recent two, including a 3-2 shootout win on Jan. 24.

Big Story: The Northwest Division rivals are heading in opposite directions as the Canucks come to Rexall Place to begin a six-game trip. Vancouver is gaining on Detroit for the Western's top spot - the Canucks are two points back entering Sunday - while the Oilers have lost five of six and lead only Columbus in the overall standings.

Team Scope:

Canucks: Vancouver is riding a 9-0-3 streak that has them second in the West and pressing Detroit for the top spot. That the Canucks have been skating well should be no surprise, but one thing about the recent run does come as a shock: Daniel and Henrik Sedin have had very little to do with it. The Sedins - usually vital conduits through which Vancouver's offense flows - entered Saturday's contest against Toronto with just 12 points between them over the past 12 games. Unfortunately for Toronto - and, perhaps, Edmonton - the Sedins got back in the scoring columns in a big way against the Leafs. Daniel Sedin had four points (one goal, three assists), while Henrik had four helpers of his own.

"We didn't play our best for a month, a month and a half, and that's something we had to change," Daniel said. "We played better the last few games and hadn't got the results. But tonight a few of them went in."

Oilers: As January turned to February, the Oilers stirred to life, going 4-0-1 over a five-game stretch that harked back to their early-season success. Since then, however, very little has gone their way. After getting a much-needed 4-3 overtime win in Ottawa last Saturday, the Oilers returned to Rexall Place for a three-game homestand and promptly lost the first two. The second was a 3-1 loss on Friday to Colorado, who jumped out to a 3-0 lead midway through the second period. Associate coach Ralph Kruger, at the helm while Tom Renney recovers from a concussion suffered when a puck struck him in the head earlier this month, called his team's lack of spark an anomaly. But losing has become all too typical of this Oilers team.

"We've had the odd night like this," Kruger said. "It's about finding ways to win the difficult games. We knew this was going to be a tough one as they are fighting for their lives. They played very well defensively and didn't give us much deep down in front of the net. They really cleaned that up.

Who's Hot : Alexandre Burrows was twice the recipient of a Sedin assist on Saturday, scoring two goals to give him three in the past two games.

Injury Report: Vancouver's Kevin Bieksa played - and scored - Saturday against Toronto, despite a sore foot. Dale Weise missed the game with a facial laceration and bruised right foot. Keith Ballard (sore neck/headaches), Andrew Ebbett (collarbone surgery) and Aaron Volpatti (shoulder surgery) are all on injured reserve. … For Edmonton, Corey Potter (groin) is questionable for Sunday. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will miss at least another week with a sprained shoulder. Theo Peckham is on injured reserve with a facial injury.

Stat Pack: Likely Edmonton starter Devan Dubnyk has a decent mark all-time against Vancouver, going 2-2 with a 2.17 goals-against average and .930 save percentage, but has lost his last two decisions while conceding eight goals. … If the Canucks score first, the numbers suggest it may be a long evening for Edmonton. Vancouver has more wins than anyone (32) when scoring first, while Edmonton is 27th in the League (6-19-3) when conceding the first goal.

Puck Drop: Despite their enviable streak, the Canucks needed overtime 10 times in the past 14 games before Saturday's blitz of the Leafs.

"It was nice to get a few goals and not play a game where you need to come back the last few minutes," Henrik Sedin said. "It got away from them."

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