Oilers-Canucks Preview

The Edmonton Oilers haven’t won very often away from home
lately, making their upcoming seven-game road trip against some
tough competition appear all the more daunting.

They’ll look to avoid their fifth straight road loss Monday
night when they face the Vancouver Canucks.

After starting 8-2-2, the Oilers (15-16-3) have cooled
considerably, and they occupy last place in the Northwest Division
– having lost eight of their last 10 road games.

Edmonton, though, ended a four-game overall losing streak with a
4-1 victory over Minnesota on Thursday with the help of two goals
from Jordan Eberle and 30 saves from Nikolai Khabibulin.

The Oilers killed all five Wild power plays.

“Every win brings you some kind of relief,” forward Taylor Hall
said. “I didn’t care what the score ended up being, I just wanted
to be able to say that we played well. We showed near the end that
we can still hit the panic button pretty well and the penalty
parade didn’t help us but our penalty killing was stellar, as was
Nikolai Khabibulin.”

Edmonton hopes to carry that confidence on its longest road trip
of the season, which features stops at Minnesota, Chicago and St.
Louis.

And, of course, Vancouver (21-12-2), which has won six of its
last eight at home.

The Canucks are 12-3-1 in their last 16 overall, overcoming a
slow start to move within one point of Northwest-leading Minnesota.
They had won three straight before falling 3-1 to Calgary on
Friday.

It marked only the third time in that 16-game stretch that
Vancouver was held to two or fewer goals, leaving coach Alain
Vigneault wondering what happened after such a solid run.

“We were all there,” Vigneault said. “We all saw it. We were
just terrible. There’s no other way to put it. I’m shocked. I
expected a lot more.”

Vigneault praised Roberto Luongo, who stopped 28 of 30 shots and
lost in regulation for the first time since Dec. 1. He’s 7-1-1 with
a 1.52 goals-against average in his last nine starts.

“I’ve seen this group battle back from (being outplayed) before,
I’ve seen our goaltenders keep us in it to help us find our legs
and find our execution and our hands,” Vigneault told the Canucks’
official website. “That’s certainly what our goaltender did for 57
minutes.”

Luongo wasn’t as good in the first two meetings with Edmonton
this season, going 1-1-0 with a 4.14 GAA. He was pulled during the
most recent contest Oct. 25 after allowing three goals in a stretch
of barely five minutes in the second period of a 3-2 Oilers
victory.

Eberle and Hall each had a goal and an assist in that outburst.
Rookie standout Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had his first career hat trick
for Edmonton in Vancouver’s 4-3 win Oct. 15.

Nugent-Hopkins leads all rookies with 13 goals and 21 assists,
though he’s mired in a season-worst six-game drought without a
goal.

Khabibulin made 35 saves to win the most recent meeting between
the teams, improving to 2-12-1 with one tie and a 3.35 GAA in his
last 16 appearances – 15 starts – versus Vancouver.

The Oilers have won three of the last four meetings overall, but
the last three have been in Edmonton. The Canucks have won five of
the last six matchups in Vancouver.