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Oilers wrap up 2006 home schedule

by Staff Writer / Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers wrap up their home schedule for the 2006 calendar year tonight with a meeting against the Vancouver Canucks.

Tonights game is yet another in a series of tight Northwest Division match-ups. Just prior to Vancouver scoring in overtime to defeat the Calgary Flames Wednesday night and gain the extra point, there was a five-way tie for top spot in the division.

Right now, two points separates first from fifth with Calgary and Minnesota tied for first, Vancouver in third and Edmonton tied with Colorado for fourth. The winner of tonight's game would vault into top spot in the division.

Vancouver looked to be fading fast in mid-December after dropping three straight games before Christmas but came flying out of the gate after the break to defeat the Flames in back-to-back games. The Canucks are currently in a make-or-break stretch of games that sees them play five of six against one of the two Alberta teams.

OILERS TO WATCH: Raffi Torres is starting to become known for being a Canucks killer. Last season in eight games against Vancouver, he had seven goals and this year he leads the Oilers with two goals in three prior meetings with the Canucks Steve Staios has three of his 11 points this season against Vancouver, tying Torres and Petr Sykora for the team lead in points against the Canucks in 2006-07 Dwayne Roloson has a .973 save percentage and 1.00 goals-against average in two games versus Vancouver this season.

CANUCKS TO WATCH: No Canucks player has registered more than a single point against the Oilers this year with the only goal scorers being Markus Naslund, Taylor Pyatt and Sami Salo Daniel Sedin is on fire with four goals and two assists for six points in his last three games. His brother Henrik has a goal and four assists in that same time span. Henrik Sedin leads the Canucks with 38 points though 33 of those points are assists Roberto Luongo is tied for third in the league with 19 wins.

LINEUP UPDATE (11:21 AM): Jussi Markkanen is expected to get the start in goal tonight for the Oilers. Also drawing in is defenceman Jan Hejda (Smid out) and potentially Jean-Francois Jacques (Winchester out).

ROSTER UPDATES: Edmonton – Ethan Moreau (shoulder) is out. Ladislav Smid (dental) is questionable; Vancouver – Tommi Santala (knee) is out. Rick Rypien (groin) is out. Alex Burrows (hip) is questionable.

OILERS, CANUCKS ON THE PK: The Edmonton Oilers have the league's best penalty killing on the road at 93.7% while the Canucks are number one in the league at home at 93.2% but with Edmonton at home and Vancouver on the road tonight, both teams are below average in this situation. Edmonton is 82.4% on the penalty kill on home ice (20th in the NHL) while Vancouver is 80.3% on the road (19th in the NHL).

FAST FACTS: Vancouver is currently 6-9-1 against the Northwest Division this season On Wednesday, the Canucks won their 100th game when both Daniel and Henrik Sedin record at least a point in a game. Vancouvers overall record in these situations is 100-34-16 Canucks centre Brendan Morrison has the second longest active iron man streak in the NHL, having played in 468 consecutive games. Colorado defenceman Karlis Skrastins has suited up in 469 straight contests The Canucks have been nearly unbeatable in overtime this season. Through eight games, they have a record of 7-0-1 in extra time. Six of those wins have come in overtime while one win came in a shootout. Their only loss was against Minnesota via the shootout.
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