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Canucks try to slow down surging Oilers

by John Kreiser /

CANUCKS (15-8-4) at OILERS (11-12-5)

TV -- SNET-Pacific; SNET-West

Last 10 -- Vancouver 5-4-1; Edmonton 7-2-1

Season series -- It's the second of six meetings between the Pacific Division rivals. Vancouver came to Rexall Place on Nov. 2 and left with a 4-3 victory. The Oilers pay their first visit of the season to Rogers Arena on Boxing Day.

Big story -- Don't look now, but the Oilers are one of the NHL's hottest teams -- and they're coming off one of the most spectacular shootout wins of the season, beating Tampa Bay 4-3 on Friday night in a game that saw rookie Linus Omark get the clincher with a highlight-reel effort. The Canucks come to town after losing 5-4 to the Lightning in OT on Saturday.

Team Scope:

Canucks -- Vancouver started Saturday night by retiring former captain Markus Naslund's No. 19 -- but ended it watching Tampa Bay celebrate its first win ever in the Pacific Northwest when Steven Stamkos' OT goal gave the Bolts a 5-4 win.

The Canucks rallied for a point after trailing 3-1 and 4-2. But while rookie goaltender Cory Schneider had a pair of assists, he also stopped just five of nine shots after the first period.

"We did a great job battling back to get a point and I wish I would have been more of a difference maker," said Schneider, who hadn't started a game since Nov. 15 in Buffalo. "But I had to come up with some saves there in the second period. We kind of settled down after the first and give them much after that."

Oilers -- The talk of Saturday's practice was Omark's spectacular shootout goal, which started with a spin-o-rama outside the blue line and ended with the Swedish rookie ripping a shot through Dan Ellis' legs and into the net.

Was Omark hot-dogging it? Coach Tom Renney wants to make sure the rookie doesn't cross the line between creative and showboating.

"You want him to play his game and that's a part of the game. I can't restrict him from being creative," he said at Saturday's practice. "Just respect the League, respect your opponent, do what you do best, and beyond that, deal with it appropriately."

Who's hot -- Vancouver's Daniel Sedin has 4 goals and 10 points during a seven-game points streak. Twin brother Henrik has 6 points in the Canucks' last five games. … Taylor Hall, taken by the Oilers with the No. 1 pick in the Entry Draft last June, has 4 goals in his last 4 games and 10 goals in his first 28 NHL games.

Injury report -- Vancouver is without defenseman Christian Ehrhoff (concussion) and forward Mason Raymond (broken thumb). … Edmonton will be without forwards Ales Hemsky (groin) and Shawn Horcoff (knee)for the foreseeable future.

Stat pack -- Vancouver's Daniel Sedin leads the NHL by getting his team's first goal 11 times; six of those were the first goal scored by either team.

Puck drop -- With a 5-0-1 mark in their last six games, things are looking up in Edmonton after last season's dead-last finish.

"It's a great room. Any room is great when you're winning," forward Dustin Penner said. "We're looking forward to the Canucks. They had a pretty emotional win, come-from-behind against the Ducks the other night so I'm sure they'll be jacked up."

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