The Vancouver Canucks have picked up their play of late, even with their head coach absent.
Facing the worst team in the Western Conference gives them the perfect opportunity to continue their momentum.
Vancouver looks to make it four wins in as many games this season against the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night.
The Canucks have gone 2-1 since coach John Tortorella was suspended on Jan. 21, beating Phoenix 5-4 in overtime Sunday. Kevin Bieksa scored his second goal of the game in overtime, lifting Vancouver to its third win in four tries following a 1-5-2 slide.
After scoring just eight times in the previous seven games, five goals was a welcome sight for the Canucks.
”It wasn’t your typical game. We’ve been struggling to score goals lately, so let’s take some positive out of it. We put five in, some guys got on the score sheet and we found a way to win when it came down to it,” said Bieksa, who also had an assist.
A second matchup against the Oilers in a week could help the Canucks (27-17-9) win two straight for the first time since Dec. 22 and 29. They have outscored Edmonton 12-3 in winning all three meetings in 2013-14 and are 15-3-2 in the series at home since the 2007-08 season.
A struggling power play and the absence of forwards Henrik Sedin and Mike Santorelli are two reasons why Vancouver is struggling so much offensively. The Canucks are 2 for 34 on the man advantage over the last nine games, going 0 for 4 in a 2-1 win at Edmonton on Jan. 21.
”When a power play struggles it can take on a life of its own,” said assistant coach Sullivan, who is running the Canucks’ bench in place of Tortorella.
Sedin – tied with brother Daniel for the team lead with 40 points – missed his third straight game Sunday with an upper-body injury, while Santorelli sat out for the fourth consecutive contest with the same ailment. Henrik’s absence seems to be affecting Daniel, who has just one point in seven games.
Edmonton snapped a season high-tying six-game losing streak with a 5-1 victory over Nashville on Sunday. Five different players scored and Ben Scrivens made 34 saves for the Oilers, who are three points ahead of NHL-worst Buffalo in the overall standings.
"It was nice to get out to an early lead, and we carried momentum from shift after shift. We needed desperately to get a win," Ryan Smyth said. "Now we have some confidence that we can win."
Smyth’s team can’t have much confidence playing on road, where it has lost seven straight and 11 of 12. The Oilers have allowed four goals or more eight times in that 12-game span.
With games on back-to-back nights, Vancouver could start Eddie Lack against Edmonton after Roberto Luongo made 29 saves versus Phoenix. Lack has lost his last three starts despite a 2.13 goals-against average. Luongo, though, has posted a .958 save percentage in three wins against the Oilers this season.
Edmonton hopes to get captain Andrew Ference back after he sat out Sunday’s win because of a head injury suffered Friday against the Coyotes.