The Edmonton Oilers have won five straight games away from home, four straight overall and ten of their last twelve. Tonight, they look to keep the good times rolling and add to their cushion on the playoff cutline with their second straight two-game miniseries sweep.
The Oilers are in Vancouver for the fourth of ten meetings this season between them and the Canucks. So far, the Oilers hold a 2-1-0 advantage in the series thanks to their 4-3 comeback victory on Tuesday. Following this tilt, the Oilers will return home and play seven straight games at Rogers Place.
Thatcher Demko will get the nod for the Canucks, while Mike Smith gets the start for the Oilers.
Keys To The Game:
Edmonton: Start better. Sure, it was fun to see the Oilers score four straight goals and win 4-3 in dramatic fashion on Tuesday night, but that isn’t a recipe for success. The Oilers cannot afford to spot teams multiple goal leads and expect to keep winning games. The top team in the NHL when it comes to first period goals, the Oilers need to jump on a fragile Canucks team early tonight.
Vancouver: Stay in your lane. The Canucks came out, pushed the pace and jumped out to a 3-0 lead on Tuesday night. In the final forty minutes? Not only were the Canucks outclassed by the Oilers, but they started running around and trying to be overly physical. The Canucks, regardless of how they start tonight, need to stick to their gameplan for sixty full minutes.
Players To Watch:
Edmonton: Ethan Bear is back. After an eleven game absence with a head/face injury, Bear returns to the lineup tonight for the Oilers. A strong five-on-five defender who can move the puck and contribute on the penalty kill, Bear is a big boost to any team’s lineup. Expect some rust tonight, but Bear is a huge addition for the Oilers.
Vancouver: Quinn Hughes might just be the most dynamic defenseman in the North Division. He’s also had some success against the Oilers this season. In three games played, Hughes has three points (0 g, 3 a) thus far. His ability to transition from defense to offense, with his puck moving ability and passing, makes him a dangerous weapon that teams have to be aware of at all times.
With Bear back in the lineup, the Oilers were forced to create a roster spot for him. William Lagesson, injured last Monday, was placed on IR retroactive to February 15th. Kyle Turris, who was scratched in each of the last three games, will remain out of the lineup. James Neal is not on the trip and will not play tonight.
While not yet confirmed, Kris Russell is the best guess at a scratch tonight on defense. Lineups are subject to change.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Connor McDavid – Jesse Puljujarvi
Dominik Kahun – Leon Draisaitl – Kailer Yamamoto
Tyler Ennis – Jujhar Khaira – Josh Archibald
Patrick Russell – Gaetan Haas – Alex Chiasson
Darnell Nurse – Tyson Barrie
Adam Larsson – Ethan Bear
Caleb Jones – Evan Bouchard
Tyler Motte (lower body) and Justin Bailey (upper body) both remain on IR and will not be available tonight, while Jayce Hawryluk is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury and also will not play. Travis Hamonic (upper body), is currently on IR but is a game-time decision.
Vancouver Canucks Lines:
Nils Hoglander – Elias Pettersson – Brock Boeser
Tanner Pearson – Bo Horvat – Jake Virtanen
J.T. Miller – Brandon Sutter – Adam Gaudette
Antoine Roussel – Jay Beagle – Zack MacEwen
Alex Edler – Nate Schmidt
Quinn Hughes – Travis Hamonic
Jordie Benn – Tyler Myers
“We have a chance to get four points out of Vancouver and that’s huge for us,” Nugent-Hopkins said earlier today. “All these little miniseries, the goal is always to take four points. That’s our mindset. It’s fun to be part of that (comeback). Everybody was working together, we were moving pucks up quick, not giving them a chance to get any rhythm on offence for themselves and when we needed some big saves, Smitty was there for us. Every team has a chance to beat anybody in this League. There is so much parity,”
The Oilers have been enjoying hockey away from home. In ten games away from Rogers Place this season, the Oilers are 7-3-0. They have won five straight on the road, including Tuesday night against these same Canucks. Another interesting stat? The Oilers are just 4-4-0 when outshooting their opponent this season, When outshot? They are 7-4-0.
Is another Art Ross Trophy coming to Northern Alberta? It sure seems so. McDavid currently leads the NHL with 38 points (13 g, 25 a), while defending Art Ross Trophy winner Leon Draisaitl is 2nd with 33 points (10 g, 23 a) this season. Draisaitl has eight points, all assists, in three games against Vancouver this season.