The Vancouver Canucks (34-30-10) will look to sweep their two-game road trip and pick up their fourth straight win overall tonight when they battle the Colorado Avalanche (45-21-6) at the Pepsi Center.
Don't look now but the Canucks are officially on a roll. And while most pundits' belief is that the hole they've dug themselves into will ultimately be too much to overcome to get back into the playoffs, the Canucks have at least succeeded in giving their fans some hope that perhaps they can pull off the impossible. Vancouver's 5-2 shellacking of Minnesota last night pulled them within four points of a playoff spot and, with some help from the out-of-town scoreboard tonight, they could potentially close that gap to two points with a victory over the Avalanche.
The Avalanche may be comfortably sitting in a playoff spot but don't expect them to lie down and let the Canucks have their way. Colorado is looking to right their own ship to a degree as they have just won just two of their last six outings (2-3-1) although they are coming off a 5-4 shootout win over the Predators on Tuesday. The Avs still have a realistic shot at catching the Ducks and the Blackhawks to potentially finish as high as third in the Western Conference. This is the second of three meetings between the Canucks and Avs this season. Vancouver was 3-1 victors way back on December 8. Barring the unforeseen, expect Eddie Lack to get the call between the Canucks' pipes again tonight.
Puck drop at 6 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Pacific, THE TEAM 1040, or online at www.teamradio.ca.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Daniel builds on yesterday's goal. Sometimes all you need is a good bounce to turn your game around. We saw the hot streak Alex Burrows got on when he finally notched his first of the season. Daniel Sedin will hope that his slump-busting goal yesterday can do the same.
2. The PK stays strong. The Canucks haven't allowed a power play goal in three straight games. They've also won three straight games. Coincidence? Probably not. They'll need their penalty killing to continue to be solid when they go up against one of the league's top power plays belonging to the Avs.
3. Shut the door. Goal scoring has not been an issue for the Avs lately. Preventing them, however, has been a different story. In their last six games, they've allowed four-or-more goals on three occasions. In particular against a Canucks' team that is starting to slowly find their offensive confidence, they've got to find a way to tighten things up.
DID YOU KNOW?
It seems fitting that in Patrick Roy's first year back with the Avalanche now as a head coach, he could have a front row view of watching his goaltender, Semyon Varlamov, break his own franchise record of 40 wins in a single season set back in 2000.01. Varlmov enters play today with 35 victories and the Avs still have nine more games left in the regular season including tonight's against the Canucks.
Varlamov recently posted in his 100th career victory on March 12 against the Blackhawks. He became just the fourth Russian goaltender in NHL history to reach 100 victories joining Evgeni Nabokov, Nikolai Khabibulin and Ilya Bryzgalov.
.400 – Win percentage for the Canucks this season when playing on zero days rest (6-7-2).
.949 – Save percentage for Eddie Lack during this three-game win streak for the Canucks.
0 – Penalty minutes for Avs forward Ryan O'Reilly this season - the only player with at least 50 GP and no PIMs.
3 – Points for currently-injured Canuck Mike Santorelli (2-1-3) in the lone meeting against the Avs so far this season.
40 – Goals scored by Avalanche D-men this season. The Canucks, by comparison, have 34.
799 – Career points for Daniel Sedin. He needs one more to become the second Canuck in history to amass 800 points joining his brother, Henrik.
IN THE INFIRMARY
For the Canucks…
For the Avalanche…
F John Mitchell is questionable (bruised back). F PA Parenteau (torn right MCL) is out. F Alex Tanguay (hip surgery) is on the injured reserve list.
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