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Under the Scope: Oilers at Canucks

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers

Coming off an emotional victory Thursday against the New York Islanders, Edmonton was looking to carry its momentum into Friday's Northwest Division tilt with the Canucks. A solid first period netted a scoreless result, but three quick strikes by Vancouver early in the second proved to be all the home side needed to secure victory. Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler all recorded three points on the evening as the Canucks cruised to a decisive 6-1 victory over the Oilers at Rogers Arena.

Cory Schneider continues to impress, as his record now improves to 8-0-2 on the season following his second win over the Oilers in 2010-11. Schneider was tested with 24 shots, including 13 in the middle frame, but was equal to the task on most. Ales Hemsky scored the Oilers' lone goal of the evening, with a goal-mouth scramble at 19:59 of the second to bring the Oilers within two.

As the final frame got underway, Ryan Kesler took over. Two third-period goals scored by the Canucks veteran ultimately sealed the Oilers' fate and helped to put a stamp on an offensively charged evening. With the hat-trick tonight, Kesler has now scored 23 goals on the season; only one behind Daniel Sedin, who has recorded a team-leading 24.

The Oilers have now lost all four meetings with the Canucks this season. With the downfall tonight, Edmonton's record drops to 13-20-7 on the campaign.

All you need to know and more as we go Under the Scope:

Vancouver's Cory Schneider has quickly established himself as more than a reliable backup goaltender. The stable backdrop was again on display tonight, with one particular save setting the bar for the evening. With the Oilers on the powerplay early in the second, a cross-crease feed from Ales Hemsky found the tape of Dustin Penner. The Oilers' power forward made solid contact, but the sliding post-to-post effort from the Canucks netminder stonewalled the glorious scoring attempt. Moments later, brothers Henrik and Daniel Sedin connected, turning the tide and putting the home side up 3-0.

31 The Oilers won only 31% of the draws tonight. Of the less-than-spectacular totals, Sam Gagner led his club with a 6-10, 38% efficiency rate in the dot.
50 Following a perfect 7-for-7 outing against the Islanders Thursday night, the Oilers' penalty kill was only able to operate at a 50% clip against the Canucks. Vancouver went 2-for-4, and was able to seal the victory with a pair of third-period powerplay markers.
7 Sucess at Rogers Arena has been difficult to come by in recent seasons for the Oilers. In the team's past eight visits to Vancouver, Edmonton has lost seven -- including five straight, dating back to the team's last win in Vancouver on December 26, 2008
10 Edmonton has now lost 10 of its last 12 games. The group hopes to rebound Tuesday in Dallas.

Ryan Kesler
G A P +/- Shots
3 0 3 +2 4

Daniel Sedin
G A P +/- Shots
2 1 3 +2 5

Henrik Sedin
G A P +/- Shots
0 3 3 +2 1

Cory Schneider
24 23 1 59:47 .958

Nikolai Khabibulin
34 28 6 60:00 .824

Alexander Edler - D

26:27 - 1G, E rating

Tom Gilbert - D

29:00 - 0P, -1 rating

Moments after Cory Schneider's brilliant glove stop on Penner, the Sedins turned back the other way to orchestrate their own display of talent. With Tom Gilbert caught up ice, Theo Peckham was left alone to defend the quick-strike arsenal of the Canucks' top offensive stars. Henrik slid a perfectly-placed pass onto the stick of his brother, Daniel, to set up what resulted in a helpless play for Oilers goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin. Daniel quickly faked a shot before pulling it to his backhand, sliding the puck across the goal line with ease passed the veteran netminder.

As the game progressed, the battles in the trenches were becoming a lost cause for the trailing Oilers. Ryan Kesler, in particular, had an excellent evening in and around Edmonton's crease. A hat-trick performance, with two of his three markers coming off deflections, set the stage for a lopsided Canucks victory. Kesler finished the night with the aforementioned hat-trick, a dominating 14-3, 82% faceoff efficiency rate, and a plus-two rating. Overall, a fantastic night for the Vancouver veteran.

Although the Oilers quite clearly had a difficult night on the scoreboard, Ladislav Smid did his best to rebound following a difficult outing Thursday against the Islanders; a game in which the 24-year blueliner took three minor penalties. Tonight, however, Smid responded with 21:09 of ice-time, one assist, a team-leading five hits, and two blocked shots. With the injuries to Ryan Whitney and Jim Vandermeer, the need for another rearguard to step up is crucial. Tonight, Smid did his best.

Although physical forward Steve MacIntyre was only credited with 7:33 of ice-time tonight, his presence was felt midway through the third period. As Vancouver's Andrew Alberts circled in his own end to retrieve the puck, MacIntyre laid his sights on the opportunity. Alberts was met in the corner by the shoulder of MacIntyre, which sent the bluelinder violently into the boards. Alberts, naturally frustrated with the play, dropped the gloves with MacIntyre but was content to wrestle to a draw.

Coming into tonight's game, Edmonton's penalty kill had been much improved over the last little while. The Oilers hadn't given up a powerplay goal in the past six games, and were operating at an 88.5% clip in the past 15. On this night, however, the Canucks put their own stamp on that improved statistic, as the home side scored twice with the man advantage on four opportunities.

"We just played the best team in the NHL tonight and we lost by five. There's a reason for that. You don't hand the puck over to a team like this and allow them to create any kind of momentum."

"They were able to capitalize on our Achilles' heel, and that's turnovers."

-  Head Coach Tom Renney on the loss to Vancouver

Tuesday, January 11 vs. Dallas
  6:30pm MT (SN-EDM / 630 CHED)

The Oilers will now get a few days off to recharge before heading to Dallas in game two of this current five-game road trip. A battle with the red-hot Stars awaits.

Author: Ryan Dittrick |

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