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Oilers aim to seek revenge against Canucks

by Tal Pinchevsky
CANUCKS (4-3-1) at OILERS (3-2-2)


Season series -- This is the second of six games this season between these Western Canadian rivals. In their first matchup on Oct. 15 in Edmonton, Sami Salo's second goal of the game gave the Canucks a 4-3 come-from-behind victory. But the real story of the night was Edmonton's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins notching his first NHL hat trick, which he achieved in only his third NHL game.

Big Story – Since starting a three-game homestand with a humbling 4-0 loss to the Rangers in which they outshot New York 40-19, the Canucks have won two straight. They rebounded nicely with a 5-1 win over Nashville before beating Minnesota 3-2 on another Salo winner, this time in overtime. … Playing their third match in a four-game homestand, Edmonton is enjoying an October in which they'll play nine of their 11 games in the province of Alberta -- eight home games and a road test in Calgary. They split the first two games of this stand, losing to the Wild in a shootout before beating the Rangers.

Team Scope:

Canucks – Tuesday night in Edmonton will likely see the first appearance by David Booth in a Canucks uniform. He was acquired over the weekend from Florida, along with Steve Reinprecht and a 2013 Draft pick, in exchange for Mikael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm, who played only six games with Vancouver before being shipped to Florida – his fifth NHL squad in the last 18 months. Vancouver immediately shipped Reinprecht to the Chicago Wolves of the AHL.

There remains a goalie controversy in Vancouver, where Roberto Luongo was widely criticized after porous keeping in the Rangers loss. He saved 25 in the drubbing of Nashville days later, but Cory Schneider made his first start in goal Saturday against the Wild, stopping 21 shots in the win.

Oilers – Entering the season, it was the Oilers' defense and goaltending that was considered the glaring weakness on the team’s roster. But Edmonton’s defense has been the surprise of this young season. The Oilers have allowed one goal or less in five of their seven games this season, ranking them second in the NHL behind Los Angeles in goals allowed per game.
The young trio of Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle has combined for 17 points to lead the Oilers, but it has been the veteran goaltending duo of Nikolai Khabibulin and Devan Dubnyk that have defied all expectations in the Edmonton crease. In four starts, Khabibbulin leads the League with a 0.72 GAA and still has yet to lose in regulation. In his last start on Saturday night, Khabibulin stopped 19 Rangers shots while the young three up front combined for five points to lead the Oilers to a 2-0 win.

Who's HotSami Salo has been leading the Vancouver blue line with five points in his last four games, a stretch that includes two game-winning goals. While the Sedin brothers have paced the Canucks offense, winger Daniel has been scorching, with five points in his last two games. … With only four goals allowed in their last three games, the Oilers' best player has been Khabibulin. On offense, Hall has led the way with four points in four games.

Injury Report – For the Canucks, Mason Raymond (fractured vertebrae), Byron Bitz (groin surgery), and Aaron Rome (broken hand) are all on IR. … For the Oilers, Ales Hemsky (shoulder) and Sam Gagner (ankle) remain out, while Darcy Hordichuk is out with a knee injury.

Stat Pack – The elder statesman Khabibulin's sudden resurgence in Edmonton was unexpected, especially considering the age of some of the forwards providing the offense in front of him. Khabibulin was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in 1992. At the time, Hall was seven months old and Nugent-Hopkins wouldn't even be born for another ten months.

Puck Drop – Booth is expected to play on a line alongside Ryan Kesler and Christopher Higgins. The linemates share more than one common thread. The three Americans were selected early in consecutive Drafts (Higgins in 2002, Kesler in 2003, Booth in 2004) and each has enjoyed at least three 20-goal seasons.
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