One season after surprisingly winning the Northwest Division, the rest of the NHL appears to have caught up with the Vancouver Canucks. Their own division, though, continues lagging behind.
The Canucks look to stay unbeaten against Northwest foes and extend their winning streak to a season-best four games on Wednesday night when they host the Edmonton Oilers at GM Place.
Vancouver has won seven straight from Edmonton, including a home-and-home series on Oct. 13-14. The Canucks' Roberto Luongo has been in goal in each game during the streak, and has limited the Oilers to two goals or less in six of those victories.
The Canucks are 6-0-0 against Northwest opponents, but just 2-8-0 against all other foes.
Though they're seven points behind current division-leader Colorado, Vancouver (8-8-0) has beaten the Avalanche twice during its current win streak, including a 2-1 overtime win on Friday.
Henrik Sedin, the team's second-leading scorer with 15 points, had both goals. But he said he was looking to get the puck to his twin brother Daniel, the leading scorer with 16 points. The puck just happened to deflect off defenseman Avalanche defenseman Kurt Sauer and past goaltender Jose Theodore.
"Most of them are ugly, I don't think I've scored from further out than 10 feet," Henrik said. "The second one was supposed to be a pass."
Vancouver's streak started after it lost two of their top defensemen, Sami Salo and Kevin Bieska, to injuries during a shutout loss to Nashville on Nov. 3. Salo is out indefinitely with a broken nose while Bieksa may not play again until January due to a lacerated right calf.
The Canucks have picked up their play recently, but the Oilers have spent most of the season sputtering.
Edmonton (6-10-1) won at Calgary 4-2 on Saturday, the Oilers' first victory since beating defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim 3-2 on Oct. 28. They've given up 57 goals, among the worst in the Western Conference, but their power play has been a bigger issue. Edmonton has gone just 7-for-70 with a man-advantage this season with two of those goals coming against the Flames.
Backup goalie Mathieu Garon also may have ensured he'll see more ice time after making 37 saves for his third win this season. Garon has been in net for Edmonton's last two wins, including last month's triumph over the Ducks. Veteran Dwayne Roloson, the team's opening-night netminder, has gone 3-8-1 with a 3.14 goals-against average so far this season. Roloson, who's lost his last four starts, has never finished a season with GAA more than 3.
"I felt like (Garon) was ready to play and I like the way he has been playing and he played very well again," Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said. "He made a couple real game-breaking saves."
On Tuesday, the Oilers recalled goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers from Springfield of the American Hockey League.
Center Shawn Horcoff, who leads the Oilers with seven goals and nine assists, scored twice. He has just one assist in two losses this season to the Canucks, and has three goals and two assists during his current four-game points streak on the road.
The Oilers are 3-6-1 in road games this season, while the Canucks are just 2-6-0 at GM Place.