OILERS (6-3-1) at CANUCKS (5-5-0)
These Northwest Division rivals meet for the second time in a seven-day span. Edmonton drew first blood with a 2-1 win on Oct. 19 at Rexall Place, getting Sam Gagner
's go-ahead goal with 9:27 remaining and 39 saves from Nikolai Khabibulin
. Steve Bernier of Vancouver opened the scoring before Patrick O'Sullivan tied the game.
Neither team should have an advantage in terms of freshness, as both had games on a Saturday night when all 30 NHL teams were in action. Vancouver did get to play its game three hours earlier, though, and remains home at G.M. Place for the second of a three-game homestand.
It would seem Edmonton stands an excellent chance in this game, simply because its opponent is not Calgary. The Oilers have won six of their seven games when facing one of the other 28 teams in the League, but dropped to 0-2-1 against their Alberta rivals after the Flames prevailed 5-2 at the Pengrowth Saddledome on Saturday night.
Although it came down to the final seconds and wasn't settled until Mason Raymond
scored his second goal of the night into an empty net, Vancouver avoided becoming the first team this season to lose to Toronto with a 3-1 win on Saturday. The Canucks got back to .500 for the first time after starting the season 0-3-0 and will shoot for their first three-game win streak.
Who's Hot --
Edmonton's top line of Dustin Penner, Ales Hemsky
and Gagner, which combined for 13 points in a win over Columbus on Thursday, was at it again Saturday as Penner scored a goal while Hemsky and Gagner each registered two assists.
Raymond had one goal in nine games for Vancouver before his big night against Toronto. Roberto Luongo
stopped 35 of 36 shots and has won three of his last four decisions, giving up just six goals over that span.
Injury Report --
The Oilers won't have defensemen Sheldon Souray or Steve Staios, as both recover from concussions, but of more immediate concern is a flu bug that has felled several players -- forwards Mike Comrie and Gilbert Brule
both sat out against the Flames. Forward Fernando Pisani, who hasn't played yet this season due to a back injury, is close to returning.
Vancouver defenseman Mathieu Schneider, who hasn't played yet this season due to offseason shoulder surgery, is hoping to make his return in this game. That's good news for the Canucks, who don't expect forward Pavol Demitra back anytime soon after he suffered a setback with his own shoulder injury. Forward Daniel Sedin
(foot) and defenseman Sami Salo
(knee) are also out long-term, and forward Rick Rypien went down recently with a groin injury.
Stat Pack --
This could be a high-scoring game if penalties play a big part -- Vancouver (fourth, 27.7 percent) and Edmonton (10th, 23.3 percent) both rank in the top third of the League on the power play. In penalty-killing, the Canucks are 18th and the Oilers sit 21st.
Puck Drop --
Back-to-back games will be a recurring theme this season due to the Olympic break in February, and whichever team can handle the back end of their set the best stands to come out on top.
-- Brian Hunter, NHL.com