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Oilers begin lengthy road trip by facing Canucks

by Brian Hunter /
OILERS (15-16-3) at CANUCKS (21-12-2)


Last 10:
Edmonton 3-6-1; Vancouver 7-2-1

Season Series: Third of six meetings between these Northwest Division rivals. They split a pair of games at Rexall Place during the season's first month. Sami Salo scored twice as the Canucks overcame a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins hat trick for a 4-3 win on Oct. 15, then the Oilers rebounded with a 3-2 victory on Oct. 25 as Taylor Hall capped a three-goal second period with the decisive goal.

Big Story: The World Junior Championship is invading Rexall Place, sending Edmonton on a seven-game road trip that begins Monday with a stop in Vancouver. The Oilers will also visit the Wild, Islanders, Blackhawks, Sabres, Blues and Stars before returning home to face the Devils on Jan. 11, 2012. They've lost their last four on the road dating back to Nov. 25 and are 5-10-1 overall.

Team Scope:

Oilers: The last month has carried its share of struggles for Edmonton, but the right elixir to snap a four-game losing streak turned out to be a team on an even worse skid. Minnesota might be leading the Northwest, but the Wild entered Friday's game losers of six in a row, and the Oilers would make it an unlucky seven for them by riding a pair of goals by Jordan Eberle to a 4-1 win. Eberle opened the scoring with a power-play goal and added another early in the second, just 76 seconds after Lennart Petrell’s shorthander.

"Jordan is an exceptional talent," Tom Renney said. "He wants the puck at all times and that’s what you want to see out of a young player like that."

A three-game winning streak by Vancouver coupled with Minnesota's struggles presented the Canucks with an opportunity to take over the division lead on Friday, but they couldn't capitalize and fell 3-1 to the visiting Flames. Roberto Luongo dueled rookie Leland Irving to a scoreless tie heading into the third, but Calgary struck for the first two goals before Dan Hamhuis cut the deficit in half with 3:01 remaining. An empty-netter sealed the Canucks' fate, however.

"It was an easy game for them tonight. Not good enough for us. They outworked us. That shouldn't happen," forward Daniel Sedin said in the Vancouver Sun. "We talked about [preparation] before the game and it looked in here like everybody was ready. Then we come out and have a first period like that. It's unacceptable."

Who's Hot: Eberle has 4 goals in the Oilers' last three games and an assist in the game prior for a four-game points streak. … Luongo has allowed only four goals over his last three starts for the Canucks while stopping 99 of 103 shots, a .961 save percentage. Alexandre Burrows had goals in four consecutive games prior to being blanked on Friday.

Injury Report: Edmonton forward Ales Hemsky (illness) and defenseman Theo Peckham (upper body) are day-to-day, while defenseman Cam Barker (ankle) is on injured reserve. … Vancouver defenseman Keith Ballard (back spasms) is day-to-day. Defenseman Aaron Rome (thumb) will be out several weeks. Forward David Booth (knee) is on injured reserve.

Stat Pack: Eberle has as many power-play goals (6) as he does penalty minutes this season. … Henrik Sedin is poised to set the all-time ironman record for the Canucks, as he enters Monday tied with Brendan Morrison at 534 consecutive games played.

Puck Drop: Coming off the disappointment of losing to Calgary, another division rival, Vancouver is mindful of not looking past Edmonton in the finale of a four-game homestand.

"Every time we play them they work hard," Sedin said in the Vancouver Sun. "They have a good system in place and with those skilled guys up front, they're going to make you work for every opportunity, so it's going to be a tough game."

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