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Canucks wary of Oilers' resurgent power play

Edmonton scored four goals with man-advantage in win Wednesday

by Derek Van Diest / Correspondent

CANUCKS (27-30-12) at OILERS (28-38-7)

TV: 9 p.m. ET; SNP, SNW, NHL.TV

EDMONTON -- The Vancouver Canucks will be making a concerted effort to stay out of the penalty box against the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place on Friday.

The Oilers broke out of a 1-for-32 slump on the man-advantage with four power-play goals in a 6-4 win against the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday.

Edmonton was 4-for-6 on the power play against St. Louis with another power-play goal waved off on a coach's challenge for offside.

"They've got a good group, they have lots of talent," Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said. "I think for us, we have to play a smart game. We have to compete hard, but we do have to stay out of the box. We have to stay on the right side of them, because if you're on the wrong side, then you're going to be struggling to keep up and that's when you're going to take penalties."

The Oilers' power play is ranked 20th in the NHL (17.6 percent) with 37 goals in 73 games. Before breaking out against the Blues, the Oilers scored one power-play goal in 14 games and were 27th in the NHL (16.2 percent).

"We started with the basics [against Blues]," Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said. "We wanted to win faceoffs, we wanted to win battles, we wanted to get lots of shots and get pucks back. We started with that, which we did, and it paid off for us. What it really came down to, we started to bear down and we capitalized on our chances."

Nugent-Hopkins scored two power-play goals against St. Louis. The No. 1 selection in the 2011 NHL Draft has played three games since returning to the Oilers lineup after missing 23 games with a broken bone in his hand.

"It took the first [power-play] goal to give us some confidence in that last game," Nugent-Hopkins said. "We know that in the past little while we've struggled, and we know that a lot of it does come down to confidence. Once we got that first one, it helped us out for sure and then we kept it going."

The win against St. Louis ended a two-game losing streak for Edmonton, which has two wins in its past 10 games at home (2-7-1).

During the Oilers' struggles on the power play, coach Todd McLellan stressed simplifying their approach with the man advantage.

"We chart shots per power play, shots per minute on the power play and we're in the middle of the [NHL] pack," McLellan said. "It doesn't feel like it, because the goals aren't going in and everybody is yelling and screaming for us to shoot, but sometimes the shot is not there."

Vancouver is on a two-game losing streak. The Canucks lost 3-1 against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday.

"We have to get back to playing a smart game," Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis said. "These guys have tremendous amount of skill on their team. They were struggling a bit before their last game, but they're always dangerous with those players on the ice and you have to be real attentive to the details of what you're doing out there."

Goaltender Jacob Markstrom will start for the Canucks; Cam Talbot will start for the Oilers.

Here are the projected lineups:
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Grenier
Sven Baertschi - Linden Vey - Emerson Etem
Brendan Gaunce - Bo Horvat - Jake Virtanen
Alexandre Burrows - Jared McCann - Radim Vrbata
Dan Hamhuis - Matt Bartkowski
Ben Hutton - Christopher Tanev
Andrey Pedan - Nikita Tryamkin
Jacob Markstrom
Ryan Miller
Injured: Alex Biega (upper body), Markus Granlund (upper body), Luca Sbisa (upper body), Yannick Weber (upper body), Jannik Hansen (ribs), Brandon Sutter (broken jaw), Alexander Edler (fractured tibia), Derek Dorsett (upper body)
Scratched: None
Patrick Maroon - Connor McDavid - Jordan Eberle
Taylor Hall - Leon Draisaitl - Iiro Pakarinen
Lauri Korpikoski - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Nail Yakupov
Matt Hendricks - Mark Letestu - Zack Kassian  
Andrej Sekera - Mark Fayne
Griffin Reinhart - Adam Clendening
Darnell Nurse - Jordan Oesterle  
Cam Talbot
Laurent Brossoit
Injured: Oscar Klefbom (foot), Andrew Ference (hip), Brandon Davidson (knee), Benoit Pouliot (shoulder), Eric Gryba (knee), Adam Pardy (undisclosed)
Scratched: Luke Gazdic, Anton Lander, Adam Cracknell, Nikita Nikitin
Status report:
Kassian will play his first game against Vancouver, where he played the past three seasons. … Tryamkin will play his second game for the Canucks since joining the team from Russia. … Weber is still day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
Who's hot: Letestu had two goals and an assist in the win against St. Louis. … Nugent-Hopkins had two goals against St. Louis. … McDavid has a goal and three assists in his past four games. … Daniel and Henrik each have a goal and assist in their past three games.

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