The Vancouver Canucks (23-13-7) will close out their two-game California road trip tonight taking on the Pacific Division-leading Anaheim Ducks (30-8-5).
It's only been two games but so far it has not been a Happy New Year for the Canucks. Last night, with an opportunity to leapfrog the Kings in the tough Pacific Division standings, Vancouver instead dropped a 3-1 decision to suffer consecutive regulation losses for the first time since November 9 and 10. The Canucks will be hoping third time's a charm in 2014 as they look to pick up their first win of the New Year but it will be a tall task going up against a Ducks team that has run roughshod over the division so far this season.
Anaheim comes into Sunday's contest as winners of 12 of their last 13 games, not to mention winners of six straight home outings. In fact, the Ducks are the only NHL team that has yet to suffer a regulation defeat in front of their home fans. Anaheim is also an impressive 10-1-2 against divisional rivals including a 3-1 victory over the Canucks back on November 10 at the Honda Center. With Roberto Luongo coming off a busy performance last night in a 46-save losing effort against the Kings, don't be too surprised if Eddie Lack gets the call between the pipes tonight. Jonas Hiller is expected to get the start for the Ducks.
Puck drop at 5 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Pacific, THE TEAM 1040, or online at www.teamradio.ca.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Shut it down. The Canucks got burned last night after allowing a season-high 49 shots. They were lucky, in a sense, because the Kings are struggling to score. If they give that many opportunities to a Ducks team that has no problems with offence this season, then this game is going to be over very quickly.
2. Win the special teams battle. For a team that is as good as the Ducks have been this season, their special teams have been rather pedestrian. The Canucks will need to make sure they use this to their advantage and that means finding a way to fix their own woeful power play of late.
3. Hiller keeps frustrating. There is no netminder in the NHL hotter than Jonas Hiller right now but not only has he won 10 in a row he's been extremely frustrating to opposition shooters at the same time. In his 10-game win streak, he's only allowed more than two goals on one occasion and has surrendered just 20 goals in those 10 outings.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Ducks come into game riding a franchise-high 18 game point streak on home-ice with a record of 16-0-2. Their previous franchise record point streak was 14 games set way back in 1997.
The Ducks, who began their home campaign winning a team-record eight in a row to start the season, are the only team in the NHL not to suffer a regulation defeat on home ice this season.
-4 – Goal-differential for the Canucks in their current three-game winless skid (6 vs. 10).
1 – Win needed by Roberto Luongo for 250 as a Canuck.
2 – Game win streak for the Canucks at the Honda Center dating back to December 29, 2011.
3 – Games without a point for Mike Santorelli. His season-high drought is four games.
10 – Wins in a row for Anaheim's Jonas Hiller, a club record.
.667 - Win percentage for the Ducks when giving up the first goal – best in the NHL (12-5-1).
IN THE INFIRMARY
For the Canucks…
D Andrew Alberts (head) is day-to-day. D Ryan Stanton (high left ankle sprain), D Alexander Edler (knee), F Alex Burrows (broken jaw) and F Jordan Schroeder (sprained ankle) are on the injured reserve list.
For the Ducks…
D Luca Sbisa (right wrist surgery), D Sheldon Souray (right wrist surgery) and G Viktor Fasth (lower body) are on the injured reserve list.
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