The Vancouver Canucks (20-10-6) will look to get back on the winning track tonight when they head to the Lone Star State to battle the Dallas Stars (16-12-5).
For the first time in a long while, the Canucks come into a contest following a defeat after dropping a tough 3-2 shootout decision to the Wild on Tuesday. The key for the Canucks is to make sure that their loss two nights ago is a one-off and not the start of a lengthy slump like they had back in mid-November. They have an opportunity tonight against a Stars team that has been struggling to put up wins consistently to get right back on track. This is also an opportunity for the Canucks to put even more distance between them and a team they might be battling against for a playoff spot in April. Vancouver currently sits in sixth place in the Western Conference standings - nine points ahead of 10th place Dallas - but the Stars hold three games in hand.
Dallas is coming off a 3-2 win over Colorado on Tuesday and have two wins in their last three outings but have yet to string together consecutive victories since a three-game win streak from November 13 to 17. That win streak was capped by a 2-1 win at Rogers Arena over the Canucks. Vancouver will be without the services of defenceman Ryan Stanton who suffered a left ankle injury on Tuesday as a result of being dangerously knocked into the boards by Wild forward Zenon Konopka. Andrew Alberts will likely draw back into the lineup after sitting out the last three games as a healthy scratch.
Puck drop at 5:30 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Pacific, THE TEAM 1040, or online at www.teamradio.ca.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Crack Kari. The Stars' number one goaltender seems to have the Canucks' number over the last couple of years. He's won back-to-back games against Vancouver while stopping a combined 79 of 81 shots. The Canucks haven't had a problem getting pucks on him, but they need to find a way to be able to beat him.
2. Silence Seguin. The ex-Bruin was held off the scoresheet in Dallas' win on Tuesday but does have six goals and 10 points in his last six outings. His points, however, tend to come in bunches as in three of those six games he was actually held point-less. The Canucks will want to make sure tonight is a quiet night for him.
3. Keep things close. Neither the Canucks or Stars have excelled at close games this season – Dallas has a slightly better win percentage in one-goal games – but Vancouver is by far the better team when games get blown wide open. The Stars stand a much better chance in this game if they can turn this into a low-scoring, checking affair much like the first meeting.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Stars boast two rookies who are among the top-scoring first-year players this season and could be in the conversation for the Calder Trophy at the end of the year when all is said and done. Alex Chiasson (2nd round, 38th overall, 2009) sits second on the team in goals (8) and third in points (18) behind only Seguin and Benn while Valeri Nichushkin (1st round, 10th overall, 2013), who was taken one spot after the Canucks drafted Bo Horvat, is right behind sitting fourth with 17 points.
The Stars have not had a rookie finish in the top-five in team points scoring since Jussi Jokinen in 2005.06.
.556 – Points percentage for the Canucks in games where they surrender a power play goal (3-2-4).
1 – Assist needed by David Booth to reach 100 career assists.
3 – Straight games with a point for Yannick Weber (1-2-3), the longest point streak of his career.
8 – Straight games the Canucks have opened the scoring in. VAN is 12-3-3 when scoring first this season.
8 – Games played by rookie and former Canuck draft pick Kevin Connauton with the Stars this season.
24 – Combined points (10-14-24) for the Santorelli-Kesler-Higgins line in eight games played so far in December.
IN THE INFIRMARY
For the Canucks…
For the Stars…
D Aaron Rome (lower body) is doubtful. F Vernon Fiddler (upper body), D Trevor Daley (sprained left ankle) and D Stephane Robidas (broken leg) are on the injured reserve list.
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