EDMONTON, AB - Vancouver comes to town on the losing end of five straight, while Edmonton has scored 14 goals combined in two straight victories. Scoring seven goals is nice, but look for the Oilers emphasis to be on shoring up the defensive side against the Canucks.
"The plan for this group is to keep the puck out of our net," said Oilers winger Zack Kassian. "If we're given chances we know we can score goals."
Edmonton would like to duplicate the type of fast start they had against Boston on Thursday night, as Vancouver can provide challenges when they get the lead.
"They're a team that plays well with a lead, in my opinion," said Head Coach Todd McLellan. "If they can get out front, then they can check their way from that point to a win."
A STOUT LINEUP
Of late, the Oilers third and fourth lines have shown an ability to complement the offence of their first and second lines, meaning Edmonton can roll three or four and present matchup problems for their opponents.
When their bottom nine is contributing, a couple of things happen.
"One, it gives you a much better chance at success," said McLellan. "There's no doubt about it. When you're a one-line team, and the opposition knows it they structure their night appropriately, as far as checking and matches and that type of stuff. Two, you get an opportunity to cut back minutes on some of the guys who are counted on all the time. Instead of Connor (McDavid) playing 23, he's down to the 18-19 type thing. That bodes well for that night and future nights."
A big boost has been Benoit Pouliot's resurgence. In his return from injury, the winger has brought some offence, including goals in back-to-back games.
"It helps our team immensely," said Kassian. "He's a big part of our team. If we want to have a run at this thing here, we're going to need him to be good and he's done that and we're going to need that moving forward. It makes our team a lot deeper, makes our team harder to play against with matchups and things like that. Down the stretch here, we're going to need each line contributing in some way shape or form to beat the top teams."
The Oilers will face a former teammate as Richard Bachman returns to Edmonton between the pipes, but as a member of the Canucks.
Bachman has bounced between the AHL and NHL throughout his career, even with the Oilers. He played six games in the orange and blue in 2014-15, registering a 2.84 goals-against average and .911 save percentage.
"It's always special to play against a former team and there's some familiar faces over there," said Bachman. "For me, it's a fun opportunity to play again at this level. It's fun to come back and see the new building and all that has kind of changed and stuff, but it's more to see the familiar faces and friends from the past.
This will be Bachman's second start for the Canucks this year. He stopped 43 of 44 shots he faced in a win.
-- Chris Wescott, edmontonoilers.com
OILERS (37-24-9) vs. CANUCKS (28-33-9)
TV: 8:00 p.m. MDT; Televised on Sportsnet and CBC
Tonight is the third of five meetings between the Oilers and Canucks this season and the second of three games in Edmonton. The next time these teams will face each other is on April 8th in Vancouver.
The last time these teams met was on December 31 in Edmonton, when the Canucks topped the Oilers by a score of 3-2 in a shootout. Connor McDavid and Drake Caggiula scored for the Oilers in the loss.
Oilers team scope:
The Oilers sit in the first Wild Card position in the playoff hunt in the Western Conference. They are four points ahead of St. Louis, who occupy the second Wild Card spot and eight points up on Los Angeles who are on the outside looking in.
Edmonton's "magic number" to make the playoffs is 17 points (combined points gained by Edmonton and lost by Los Angeles in order to clinch a playoff berth). Both teams have 12 games left in the season.
Looking up in the standings, with a win tonight, the Oilers could potentially move into second place in the Pacific Division as they are two points back of Anaheim right now and one point back of third-place Calgary.
Forward Patrick Maroon scored twice in the Oilers 7-4 win over Boston on Mar. 16, giving him 24 goals (a career best), and 36 points (also a career best). Maroon also has five goals in two games against Boston this season.
Prior to 2016-17, Maroon's best goal output in one season was 12 (2015-16 with Anaheim and Edmonton). His best points total was 34, also reached with Anaheim in 2014-15.
Maroon has 12 assists in 2016-17, six assists short of his career best of 18, reached in 2013-14 as a member of the Anaheim Ducks as well.
The native of St. Louis, Missouri has three multi-goal games this season, including his first career hat trick in Boston on Jan. 5, 2016 and two two-goal games - against Boston on Mar. 16, and at Ottawa on Jan. 8. Prior to 2016-17, Maroon has three multi-point games total in 220 NHL games.
In 86 games with Edmonton, Maroon has 32 goals, 18 assists and 60 points, averaging 0.70 points a game.
Over 204 games with Anaheim over five seasons, Maroon had 79 points (26G, 53A), averaging 0.39 points a game.
Canucks team scope:
Edmonton has a 4-2-4 record against Vancouver in its last 10 games and have picked up at least a point against the Canucks in eight straight games heading into tonight (4-0-4).
The Canucks have 65 points, 14 behind St. Louis for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They have lost three straight and are 2-5-3 in their last 10.
Goaltender Ryan Miller has done very well against the Oilers in his NHL career. Miller has played 14 games against Edmonton and is 12-1-1 in those games with a 2.13 goals-against average and .924 save percentage.
Henrik Sedin has played 89 career games against the Oilers and has 17 goals and 81 points. His brother Daniel has suited up 86 times and has lit the lamp quite a bit more often with 36 goals and 80 points.
Henrik has 42 points on the season and Daniel has 38 to rank second and third on the Canucks in scoring for 2017-18.
Bo Horvat leads Vancouver in scoring with 47 points in 69 games and 20 goals. Horvat's previous career high was 16 goals and 40 points, both set last season by the 21-year-old.