The Vancouver Canucks (31-29-10) will look to close out their four-game road trip on a winning note tonight when they battle Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning (36-24-7).
For the fourth time since the Olympic break the Canucks have an opportunity to string together wins in consecutive games. But all the talk of going for that elusive second straight victory is starting to sound like a broken record so maybe what the Canucks need most is to forget the fact they haven't won back-to-back games since mid-January and instead just focus on winning one game: tonight's. Vancouver is coming off a 4-3 shootout win yesterday afternoon against the woeful Panthers but they'll face a tougher test against a Lightning squad that is fighting to book their ticket to the post-season.
The Lightning come into tonight's game as winners of two straight games and having earned points in each of their last four outings (2-0-2). They are coming off a 3-0 shutout of the New Jersey Devils on Saturday and could potentially leap frog all the way from fifth place in the Eastern Conference to a tie for third-place with a victory tonight. This is the second and final meeting between the Canucks and Lightning this season. Tampa Bay was 4-2 victors are Rogers Arena back on New Year’s Day. Eddie Lack, who took the loss that night, will likely get his 11th consecutive start for the Canucks tonight. Ben Bishop is the expected starter for the Lightning.
Puck drop at 4:30 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Pacific, THE TEAM 1040, or online at www.teamradio.ca.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Jensen stays hot. The emergence of rookie Nicklas Jensen has been the best story of the road trip so far. The Canucks might not be at a point yet where they can count on Jensen to contribute every night, but he certainly has proven he's got the skill to do so.
2. Lack finds consistency. If the recent run of games has demonstrated anything, it's that the Canucks intend to ride Lack for the rest of this season. If Lack plans to keep the playoffs a reality for his club, he'll need to find a way to avoid having one good game followed by one subpar game. Lack has not posted consecutive wins since late December.
3. Stamkos finds his game. Suffering a major injury and then losing your captain and favourite set-up man has certainly made things difficult for Steven Stamkos this season. But he knows he's the guy the Lightning need to get back to top form if they are to have any shot at competing for a Cup. Stamkos has just two points (1-1-2) since his return from injury.
DID YOU KNOW?
Ben Bishop re-wrote the Lightning history books on Saturday when he posted his 31st win of the season to set Tampa Bay's new franchise record for most wins in a single season by a goaltender.
The previous record of 30 had been held by Nikolai Khabibulin, who posted a record of 30-22-11 back in 2002.03 – one season before the Lightning went on to win a Stanley Cup with Khabibulin between the pipes.
.400 – Win percentage for the Lightning since they traded their captain, Martin St. Louis (2-2-1).
2 – Straight games the Canucks have scored three-or-more goals, their first such streak since January 5 & 7.
21 – Goals for Lightning rookie Tyler Johnson this season, two shy of tying the Lightning rookie record held by Stamkos.
60 – Minutes and 27 seconds of consecutive playing time without a goal allowed by the Lightning.
IN THE INFIRMARY
For the Canucks…
F Brad Richardson (undisclosed) is doubtful. F Ryan Kesler (sprained right knee) is out. F Daniel Sedin (strained left hamstring), F Mike Santorelli (shoulder surgery) and D Andrew Alberts (head) are on the injured reserve list.
For the Lightning…
D Brian Lee (knee surgery) and D Mattias Ohlund (left knee surgery) are on the injured reserve list.
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