The Edmonton Oilers will have a hard time ending an eight-year playoff drought if they can’t beat teams from their own conference.
Looking for their first win in seven games against a West opponent this season, the Oilers try to avoid a third straight defeat to the visiting Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night.
Edmonton (4-5-1) opened a seven-game homestand with a 2-0 loss to Vancouver on Oct. 17, then followed with four straight victories over teams from the East. Its win streak ended with a 4-1 defeat to Nashville on Wednesday that kept the Oilers winless against the West.
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All but seven of the 36 goals allowed by Edmonton have come against West foes.
"There are no excuses," forward Teddy Purcell told the Oilers’ official website. "Every team in this league is a real good team. Maybe we have a little bit more swagger against teams in the East, but to win and make the playoffs we’re going to have to bring that over to the West.
"We’ve got (to) regroup, learn from our mistakes and hopefully get on track here for our next game."
Taylor Hall scored Wednesday and has a team-leading six goals after recording one in each of the past two games. However, he’s been held without a point while the Oilers have gone 0-1-1 against the Canucks (7-3-0) this season.
Vancouver’s Ryan Miller, who started both meetings with Edmonton and made 28 saves Oct. 17, is 9-0-0 with a 1.76 goals-against average against the Oilers.
Miller improved to 7-1-0 with a 2.27 GAA after stopping 23 shots in a 3-2 overtime victory over Montreal on Thursday.
Daniel Sedin scored a power-play goal 2:45 into the extra period as Vancouver concluded a 3-0-0 homestand. The Canucks, however, felt a bit agitated after blowing a two-goal third-period lead.
"You should not give up a 2-0 lead at home, for sure," Sedin said, "but we just stood with our game, no panic."
Though the Canucks are playing well under first-year coach Willie Desjardins, games like Thursday’s serve as a reminder that there’s no room for complacency.
"It’s a hard league," Miller said. "A good start helps, but you need to keep improving, keep climbing. Come together as a group."
Daniel and Henrik Sedin each finished minus-1 and both were on the ice when Max Pacioretty tied the game with 2:33 left in regulation, but the brothers share the team lead with 12 points. Henrik Sedin has two goals and four assists during a six-game point streak.
”When their game’s not a good game, it’s still not a bad game,” Desjardins said. ”Maybe it wasn’t quite to their standards, but it was a pretty good game.”
The Sedins came through in overtime on a power play that has produced four goals on 10 chances in the last three games. Vancouver went 2 for 10 with the man advantage in the first two meetings with Edmonton, which has killed 12 of 13 penalties over its last six contests.
The twins have combined for two goals and seven assists against the Oilers this season.
Edmonton’s Ben Scrivens, who allowed all four goals on 35 shots against the Predators, has a 1.77 GAA while going 2-2-0 versus Vancouver.
Vancouver will be without forward Alexandre Burrows, who has been suspended for three games without pay by the NHL for his late, illegal check to the head of Montreal defenseman Alexei Emelin.