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PRE-GAME REPORT: Oilers vs. Canucks 05.08.21

The Oilers finish a four-game series against the Vancouver Canucks Saturday on Hockey Night in Canada

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

Oilers pre-game coverage is presented by SkipTheDishes

The Oilers complete a run of four straight games versus the Vancouver Canucks Saturday at Rogers Place.

You can watch the game on CBC & Sportsnet or listen on the Oilers Radio Network, including 630 CHED.

Video: OILERS TODAY | Pre-Game vs. VAN 05.08.21

INSIDE THE OILERS

News and notes from Friday's practice at Rogers Place, where the Oilers sang 'Happy Birthday' to Jesse Puljujarvi and more.

>> READ MORE IN THE INSIDE THE OILERS BLOG

PRE-GAME REPORT

EDMONTON, AB - It's no longer if Connor McDavid can score 100 points. 

It's when.

Four points separate the Oilers Captain from the illustrious century mark and with 12 points over a four-game scoring streak - averaging three ticks on the scoresheet per game - the inconceivable milestone could be captured versus the Vancouver Canucks Saturday at Rogers Place on Hockey Night in Canada.

McDavid has collected four or more points in a match six times during the 2020-21 campaign and should he achieve the triple-digit total tonight, No. 97 would become the ninth player in National Hockey League history to hit 100 points in 53 games.

The Connor McDavid Show has compelled the North Division all year and even members of the Orange & Blue are taken back by the remarkable acts of their 24-year-old leader.

"Unbelievable," goaltender Mike Smith said. "He's been a horse for us, for sure, and obviously a big reason why we've had success this season. He's a special talent that continues to improve, which is mind-blowing in itself.

"It's an incredible feat and I don't know why he's just settling for 100."

McDavid's uncanny scoring ability draws much of the media attention but the mandate in the Oilers dressing room remains on getting into a rhythm for playoffs. The importance of team success outweighs anything individually for McDavid and the rest of the Edmonton Oilers know.

"When your leader comes in with the mindset that winning is the only thing that we care about, guy to guy, everyone can tell you that's the approach we've had all year. He's come in driven and hungry, not so much for personal success but success as a team and making this a memorable year," defenceman Darnell Nurse said.

"That emotion and that drive, it's infectious."

Video: PRE-RAW | Darnell Nurse 05.08.21

OFF THE HOP

While McDavid seeks scoring 100, the Oilers are simply hoping to keep the Vancouver Canucks from scoring off the hop. 

Vancouver has found the back of the net in the opening minute the past two games and mounted an irreversible four-goal advantage early on Thursday.

"We made a bad mistake in the first shift of the game in Vancouver and then we had poor coverage in the start last game,' Tippett said of the early deficits. 

"Those are certainly situations that we want to address but that hasn't been an issue for our team all year."

The Oilers are 22-2-1 when scoring first and have shown resilience when trailing, going 10-16-1 when allowing the first goal against. The club would not like to see the trend turn into a habit before playoffs.

"We don't want to be limping in," Smith said. "We want to be playing good hockey, we want to be doing good things in games and we want to be implying the habits that have gotten us to this place."

LINEUP NOTES

Smith will protect the blue paint on Saturday as he searches for his 20th win of the year. He is 19-6-2 with a 2.26 goals-against average, .925 save percentage and three shutouts.

Defenceman William Lagesson will slot in alongside Adam Larsson on the blueline as Dmitry Kulikov deals with a lower-body injury. Devin Shore will also return to action up front after recovering from a minor injury.

>>VIEW THE OILERS PROJECTED LINEUP

Video: PRE-RAW | Dave Tippett 05.08.21

PREVIEW

OILERS (32-18-2) vs. CANUCKS (20-25-3)

TV: 8:00 p.m. MT; Televised on Sportsnet

Oilers Team Scope

The Oilers saw a three-game winning streak snapped in their first loss of May on Thursday, falling by a 6-3 score to the Vancouver Canucks. The club is 7-3-0 in the last 10 games and has a 15-11-0 record at Rogers Place this season.

After registering three assists in Thursday's defeat, National Hockey League-leading scorer Connor McDavid is four goals or helpers from 100 points this campaign. The Oilers Captain tops the NHL in assists (65), points (96), even-strength points (63), power-play points (33) and points per game (1.85).

Leon Draisaitl (28G, 49A) is second in NHL scoring with 77 points, Tyson Barrie (8G, 37A) is tied for second in Dmen scoring with 45 points and Darnell Nurse is second in goals by defenders with 16.

Canucks Team Scope

The Canucks put a halt to their six-game losing streak with the 6-3 double-up of the Oilers on Thursday. Vancouver is last in the North Division with 20 wins and 43 points through 48 contests and will play the final eight games of the 2020-21 season over a 12-day span.

Brock Boeser has goals in three straight, leading the Canucks in scoring with 20 markers and 21 assists in 48 games. J.T. Miller is second with 12 goals and 37 points while captain Bo Horvat has 16 tallies and 35 points.

Goaltender Thatcher Demko owns a 13-16-1 record, sporting a 2.92 goals-against average and .912 save percentage. Backup Braden Holtby is 7-9-2 with a 3.34 GAA and .899 S%.

Video: PRE-RAW | Darnell Nurse 05.08.21

Head-to-Head:

Saturday's game marks the ninth of 10 meetings between the Oilers and Canucks this campaign. Edmonton is 5-3-0 in the season series, outscoring Vancouver 28-22. 

McDavid (7G, 10A) has 17 points in eight games and Draisaitl (5G, 11A) has 16. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2G, 4A) and Tyson Barrie (1G, 5A) have six points while Kailer Yamamoto (1G, 4A) and Dominik Kahun (3G, 2A) have five.

Boeser (5G, 1A) and Nils Hoglander (2G, 4A) both have six points versus Edmonton this year. Horvat and J.T. Miller have five points apiece.

By the Numbers:

The Oilers rank 1st on the power play (27%) and 11th on the penalty kill (81.3%). ... Edmonton is 11th in goals for with 170 and has allowed 141 goals against, which is the 9th-fewest in the League. ... The Oilers have dished 1,332 hits this season (5th), averaging 25.56 hits per 60 minutes (4th). ... The club is 10th in blocked shots. ... McDavid holds a 1.85 points per game clip this year, which would amount to 152 points over an 82-game season. ...

The Canucks are 22nd on the PP (18.2%) and 23rd on the PK (78.2%). ... Vancouver is 23rd in the NHL with a 9% shooting percentage. ... VAN is 2nd in backhand shooting percentage (16.5%). ... The team is 19th in scoring by defencemen with 18 goals, 78 assists and 96 points. 

Injury Report:

OILERS - Dmitry Kulikov (undisclosed) is day-to-day; Gaetan Haas (undisclosed) is day-to-day; Kris Russell (lower body) is day-to-day; Joakim Nygard (hand) is day-to-day; Zack Kassian (lower body) is on LTIR; Slater Koekkoek (upper body) is on LTIR; Oscar Klefbom (shoulder) is on LTIR. 

CANUCKS - Marc Michaelis (upper body) is day-to-day; Brandon Sutter (upper body) is day-to-day; Antoine Roussel (lower body) is day-to-day; Elias Pettersson (upper body) is on IR; Jay Beagle (undisclosed) is on IR; Justin Bailey (upper body) is on IR; Jake Virtanen (personal) is out.

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