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Discussion Starter #1
12/30/2006 10:04:58 AM

Of the Edmonton Oilers' three winning streaks this season that lasted more than two games, two started with a win over the Vancouver Canucks. They could definitely use that type of result now.

Edmonton looks to break out of its recent skid with a third straight victory over the Canucks when the Northwest Division rivals meet Saturday at Rexall Place.

The Oilers (18-16-2) have dropped six of their last eight games, including a 7-4 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday. Edmonton held a two-goal second-period lead before allowing five unanswered en route to the defeat.

"It was unbelievable," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. "Just painful to watch. We've been poor in our own end for the majority of the losses we've had in the last little while.

"We're back playing the way we used to pre-lockout. We were brutal. We were dangerous in both ends and it ended up costing us again."

The Oilers have allowed an average of 4.7 goals in their last six defeats, including seven goals twice in that span.

Jarret Stoll led Edmonton's offense Thursday with a goal and two assists while Ryan Smyth scored his team-leading 17th goal of the season in his first game back after missing most of December with a fractured thumb.

"Obviously we still had the turkey legs," said Smyth, who led the Oilers with seven shots on goal. "We were playing a pond hockey game there and with the offensive power they have over there they were able to capitalize on their chances."

Edmonton has one of the NHL's top penalty-killing units, thwarting 88.3 percent of opponents' chances, but allowed a season-high tying three power-play goals Thursday. The Oilers did manage to score three of their own extra-man goals and added a short-hander. They have converted five of 11 power-play chances over the last two games, but have lost both.

Edmonton has had better luck against Vancouver (19-18-1), winning two of three meetings this season.

A 2-1 home win over the Canucks was the first of three consecutive victories for the Oilers, and a 4-0 win in Vancouver on Dec. 4 sparked another three-game run.

Since that win streak, however, the Oilers have been heading in the wrong direction.

Edmonton has lost two straight and five of seven at Rexall Place after opening the season 10-2 there. The team plays three of its next four games at home before visiting Vancouver on Jan. 5 to open a three-game road trip.

The Canucks, meanwhile, are coming off back-to-back wins over the Calgary Flames, including a 6-5 overtime win on Wednesday.

Sami Salo scored in the extra period for the Canucks, who twice blew a two-goal lead and were outshot 28-7 over the second and third periods.

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