Being atop the NHL would make almost any team happy, but the Vancouver Canucks still aren’t satisfied. Perhaps a visit from the last-place Edmonton Oilers will provide some pleasure for the red-hot Canucks.
Vancouver looks for an improved performance as it attempts to extend its winning streak to eight games Friday night against the Oilers.
You can watch the game live tonight on Sportsnet Pacific and Sportsnet Oilers at 7 p.m. PT.
The Canucks (26-8-5) lead the league with 57 points, earning that status for the first time since 2004. They’ve won seven in a row while not losing in regulation for over a month (12-0-2) and going 16-1-2 in their last 19 games.
That outstanding run continued with a 3-1 win over Calgary on Wednesday, improving Vancouver to 14-3-2 at Rogers Arena. However, the Canucks weren’t happy with some sloppy play while getting outshot 44-21.
“We’re winning but we’re not playing very well so you can’t fool yourself,” said left wing Daniel Sedin, who scored his team-leading 22nd goal against the Flames. “You’ve got to realize you can play better.”
Vancouver hasn’t put together an eight-game winning streak since a 10-game run from Nov. 9-30, 2002.
Sedin, tied with his brother Henrik Sedin with a team-high 50 points, will likely play a role in getting closer to that mark. He’s netted six goals and set up six others over the last eight games, although he was held without a point in a 3-2 win over Edmonton (13-19-7) on Dec. 26.
Daniel Sedin still has 27 goals in 57 games against the Oilers, his highest total against any opponent.
Henrik Sedin has also excelled against his Northwest Division rivals, collecting 54 points in 60 meetings – his most against any foe. The center has three goals and 10 assists in his last eight games versus Edmonton with seven of those matchups ending in Vancouver victories, including all three this season.
Roberto Luongo will not be back in net despite making 43 saves Wednesday, losing the shutout with 10.8 seconds remaining. He’s 12-1-1 with a 1.84 goals-against average and a shutout over his last 14 games.
Luongo didn’t face the Oilers on Dec. 26, but he has won six of his last seven starts against Edmonton, including all three meetings in Vancouver with one shutout. Instead, Corey Schneider will start in goal against Edmonton on Friday.
While the Canucks are stringing together victories at a stunning rate, the Oilers are going for back-to-back wins for the first time since a season-high four-game winning streak from Nov. 29-Dec. 4.
Edmonton scored twice in the opening 5:17 and held on for a 2-1 win over the New York Islanders on Thursday, halting a seven-game losing streak.
The Oilers’ penalty kill will need to be strong again, with Vancouver’s power play ranking second in the NHL with a 24.5 percent success rate. Edmonton has killed off the last 18 opponent power plays over six games, including all seven of the Islanders’ chances with the man advantage.
“I think the last four or five games we have been getting better on our penalty kill,” coach Tom Renney said. “(Thursday) was kind of the capper. It won us the hockey game.”
Dustin Penner has two goals and five assists in the last six games after getting one of each Thursday. The left wing has a point in each of the three meetings with Vancouver this season.