After snapping a three-game winless skid on Monday night in a big way with a 4-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks, the Edmonton Oilers now turn their attention to a familiar foe in their 2006 Stanley Cup Final opponents, the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Oilers went on a run of five straight victories before dropping an OT decision to the Anaheim Ducks last week. They followed that up with a pair of losses but still never lost hold of their position in top spot in the Northwest Division. Their rebound win Monday put them back into sole possession of first in the Northwest and third in the Western Conference.
Carolina had a lukewarm start to the season after dropping each of their first four games but rebounded to only lose three of their next 14. Currently, the Canes are solidly in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference playoff race although they have now lost four of their last seven games after a 3-0 loss to Calgary last night.
OILERS TO WATCH: As a result of recent injuries to Hemsky and Smyth, the Oilers supporting cast needs to step up. They did just that Monday in Vancouver with goals by Raffi Torres, Joffrey Lupul, Daniel Tjarnqvist and Shawn Horcoff
Quietly, Lupul is now on pace for a 28-goal season with nine markers through 26 games... Oilers leading scorer Petr Sykora also had a pair of assists Monday night and has seven points in his last six games.
HURRICANES TO WATCH: Rod BrindAmour is a seemingly unstoppable force for the Carolina Hurricanes. At age 36, BrindAmour is currently on pace for the best season of his career as his totals project him to finish the season with 105 points. His highest point total is 97 points set way back in 1993-94 Eric Staal is always dangerous when hes on the ice but hes been hot and cold this season. After racking up 55 assists last season, he only has 10 so far this year and none since November 11 – a span of 11 games. However, Staal is still on pace for 47 goals. MARKKANEN STARTING:
Jussi Markkanen will be getting the start tonight in goal for the Oilers.
ROSTER UPDATES: Edmonton – Ethan Moreau (shoulder) is out. Ales Hemsky
(shoulder) is out. Ryan Smyth
(thumb) is out; Carolina – Frantisek Kaberle (shoulder) is out. Cory Stillman (shoulder) has missed the entire season to this point but could return tonight of Friday against Vancouver.
FAST FACTS: Prior to last night's 3-0 defeat against Calgary, the Hurricanes had not lost in regulation time when allowing three goals or less in a game. Their record in that situation is now 10-1-2 The key to stopping the Hurricanes? Stop Rod BrindAmour. When BrindAmour records a point, the Canes are 15-2-2 this season. When hes held off the scoresheet, they havent yet won a game at 0-9-1 With the injuries to Hemsky, Smyth and Moreau the Oilers will only have eight players in the lineup tonight that suited up for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final: Matt Greene, Shawn Horcoff
, Raffi Torres, Jarret Stoll, Jason Smith, Steve Staios, Fernando Pisani and Jussi Markkanen.