The Vancouver Canucks have gotten inconsistent play in net in recent weeks. Not having your star goaltender available can cause that to happen.
Luongo strained his groin Nov. 22 in Pittsburgh and appeared to be getting close to coming back. The Canucks captain, though, left Wednesday’s practice after only 20 minutes and coach Alain Vigneault said Friday there’s no timetable for his return.
“For some time he has been feeling some soreness when he has been doing some dynamic exercises on the ice,” Vigneault said on the team’s Web site. “It’s not going as quickly as we thought.
“Hopefully it’s week-to-week instead of weeks-to-weeks. He just needs to back off on the ice.”
Vancouver (16-10-3) got off to a good start after Luongo went down, beating Detroit 3-2 in overtime on Nov. 24. The Canucks, though, have gone 2-4-1 since, giving up three goals or more five times.
Curtis Sanford and rookie Cory Schneider have been sharing time in net, and neither player has risen to the challenge. Luongo was 11-5-2 with a 2.17 goals-against average and five shutouts before his injury.
Sanford is expected to get the start against the Oilers (13-12-2), who again struggled offensively at home in losing 2-0 to Florida on Thursday night despite having 41 shots on goal.
Edmonton is 3-4-2 at Rexall Place, scoring two goals or fewer five times.
“We’re a young team,” defenseman Sheldon Souray said. “We’re going to make mistakes, but we certainly don’t want to keep repeating the same mistakes. We’ll keep working on it. We’ll keep hammering the message home. Sooner or later we’ve got to get it.”
One bright spot for Edmonton was the return of center Sam Gagner, who missed two games due to a concussion. Gagner, the sixth pick in the 2007 draft, skated on the fourth line with Liam Reddox and Gilbert Brule.
Gagner, 19, had been skating on the second line before getting hurt, but the Oilers plan on easing him back slowly. As a rookie last season, Gagner had 13 goals and 36 assists in 79 games.
Edmonton could certainly use a boost on offense from Gagner. Vancouver, meanwhile, has scored 14 goals in its last four games.
Defenseman Alexander Edler scored a power-play goal 24 seconds into the third period as the Canucks pulled out a 3-1 win over Nashville on Tuesday night. Vancouver had lost the first three games of its trip, but now has won two of three.
The Canucks have not lost in regulation in their last seven games at Edmonton, going 5-0-2. Vancouver is 9-1-3 overall against the Oilers since the start of 2007, winning 6-3 at home on Oct. 25 in the teams’ first meeting this season.