OILERS (23-43-11) at CANUCKS (52-17-9)
TV: CBC (HD)
Edmonton 0-7-3; Vancouver 9-1-0
Fifth of six meetings this season between these Northwest Division rivals, and the beginning of a home-and-home that concludes on Tuesday in Edmonton. Vancouver has won all four matchups to this point by a 15-7 margin, with Henrik Sedin
registering 1 goal and 6 assists while Daniel Sedin
has 3 goals and 3 assists.
Having wrapped up the Presidents' Trophy and knowing they will have home-ice advantage for as long as they remain alive in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Canucks are less concerned with the final score over their remaining four regular-season games than they are with not sustaining any more key injuries or developing any bad habits heading into Game 1 of their first-round series.
Consecutive games against the NHL's best team would seem like the last thing a team mired in an 11-game winless streak (0-8-3) needs, but Edmonton coach Tom Renney sees his players still putting in the effort as the season winds down. The Oilers will once again be favored to win the draft lottery and have the No. 1 pick this summer, but at the moment they're focused on trying to end on a high note. Knocking off the powerful Canucks would certainly provide that.
"We're not packing it in, we're not quitting in any games and we're not quitting in a shift," Renney told the Edmonton Sun. "As much as that seems like cosmetic surgery, it's real. And if you're going to redefine your team and you're going to rebuild an organization, you better start with that first and foremost and we have that."
A team with aspirations of winning the Cup wants to turn it on coming down the stretch, and Vancouver has certainly done that. The Canucks enter the month of April having won five straight and 12 of their last 13 games. They're taking care of teams they might end up facing in the postseason as well as handling those opponents on the outside looking in. It was Christian Ehrhoff scoring with 0.9 seconds left in the middle period Thursday against the Kings for the decisive goal in a 3-1 victory, clinching the franchise's first Presidents' Trophy.
"It's nice but we want another first to come in a few months," goalie Roberto Luongo
said. "That's the big one we're all keeping our eyes on obviously and, when it's all said and done, I think we'll be able to enjoy this a little more."
Who's hot: Daniel Sedin
became the first NHL player to 100 points this season with a goal and an assist against the Kings. He has 1 goal and 4 assists during a three-game points streak. Luongo has won his last four starts, giving up just a single goal each time. His save percentage is .963 over that span.
Edmonton defenseman Kurtis Foster (neck) is day-to-day, the latest injury for a banged-up squad whose top-three scorers, Ales Hemsky
(shoulder), Sam Gagner
(hand) and Taylor Hall
(ankle) are all out for the season. Also sidelined are forward Shawn Horcoff
(foot) and defensemen Ryan Whitney
(ankle) and Taylor Chorney
(knee). … Vancouver has also been hurting, with forwards Mikael Samuelsson
(thigh) and Tanner Glass (ribs/abdominal) and defenseman Christopher Tanev
(upper body) day-to-day. Defenseman Dan Hamhuis
is out indefinitely with a concussion. Defensemen Alexander Edler
(back), Lee Sweatt (foot) and Andrew Alberts
(wrist) are on injured reserve. Forward Manny Malhotra
had left eye surgery and is out for the season.
The Oilers' active scoring leader is rookie Jordan Eberle
, who has 17 goals and 39 points in 64 games. Only forward Andrew Cogliano and defenseman Tom Gilbert
have played in all 77 of their games this season. … The Canucks are bidding to become the first team since the 1977-78 Canadiens to lead the League in most goals scored and fewest goals allowed. They've scored 249 non-shootout goals this season while giving up only 172.
Nobody was hotter in the month of March than Anaheim forward Corey Perry, but Daniel Sedin
came in a close second as far as League voting went. He was named Friday as the Second Star of the month. Sedin's 21 points in March tied Perry for first, and he registered seven multi-point efforts.