Canucks-Oilers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 03, 2013
The Edmonton Oilers served notice in their season opener that they probably won't be pushovers against the Vancouver Canucks this season. Already with a rare victory over Roberto Luongo, the Oilers look for more success against the Canucks in Monday night's rematch at Rexall Place. Edmonton (4-3-1) took only one of six 2011-12 meetings against Vancouver, but got off to a good start this season with a 3-2 shootout win on the road Jan. 20. The Oilers rallied from a two-goal deficit in Nail Yakupov's NHL debut. Jordan Eberle and Ales Hemsky scored for Edmonton to offset goals from Alexander Edler and Zack Kassian. Now the Canucks (4-2-2) head to Rexall Place, where the Oilers have won two of three and gone 7 for 20 (35.0 percent) on the power play. "We know that coming into Edmonton is not an easy thing," said Edler, who has a team-high seven points. "They're good at home with all their skilled, fast players so we've got to make sure we play at our best." Luongo, who continues to be shopped by management, fell to 10-3-1 with a 2.06 goals-against average in his last 14 starts against the Oilers. He has started Vancouver's last three games over Cory Schneider, who is 3-1-0 with a 2.25 GAA in four starts versus Edmonton. The first Vancouver contest was one of two this season in which Yakupov has failed to register a point. He's got at least one in four straight contests after scoring Edmonton's lone goal in Saturday's 3-1 loss at Colorado. The Oilers allowed a season-high 40 shots in the finale of a three-game road trip. They took three points from the first two games in Phoenix and San Jose. "At critical points in the game we've got to be better with our sticks and better with our body position,'' coach Ralph Krueger said. "We are slightly fatigued off the back-to-back and the early start but let's learn and grow from that." Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff could return after missing two straight games with a neck injury. "It's still a strain that the medical staff concluded that it would be better for him to take another day knowing that'll take him through to Monday night so hopefully we'll get him back for Vancouver," Krueger said. Sam Gagner has at least one point in every game and is tied for the Oilers' lead with nine. Taylor Hall also has nine, but was held without one for the first time Saturday. Vancouver won 2-1 in a shootout over Chicago on Friday, as Luongo stopped all four Blackhawks attempts. The Canucks have won two of three shootouts since losing to Edmonton. "I know points are real important so that's one of the reasons why we're working a lot on our shootouts," coach Alain Vigneault said. The Canucks did not allow a goal on five chances on the penalty kill against the Blackhawks. That unit has allowed three goals in its last 23 opportunities after yielding five in 12 chances in Vancouver's first three games. "It's another area that we're hoping we're getting better at, we're working at and obviously with our guys right now, we're doing a lot of video," Vigneault said. "It's an area that we need to improve and we know that." Daniel Sedin has gone four straight games without a point while Henrik has one assist in that span.
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