Game 42: Canucks vs. Lightning (1.1.14)
The final month of 2013 proved to be quite fruitful for the Canucks who went 10-1-2 in December but, for the first time in over a month, they're coming off a home game in which they failed to earn two points after dropping a tough 4-3 shootout decision to the Flyers on Monday. They'll try to rebound and begin January on a high note facing a Lightning team that, despite losing their top player in Steven Stamkos back in early November, has still managed to surprise many by soaring to near the top of the Eastern Conference standings.
The Lightning are starting a four-game Western Canada swing tonight and are looking to snap a two-game winless skid after coming up empty on their recent home stand. They dropped a 4-3 decision to the Rangers in their most recent outing on Sunday. This is the first of two meetings between these two unfamiliar foes who have only faced each other 24 times in their respective histories and not in nearly two full years. Like the Canucks, the Lightning have been a banged-up crew lately but are expected to have Ryan Malone and Eric Brewer back in the lineup. Ex-Canuck Sami Salo, however, will miss tonight's game with an upper-body injury. Eddie Lack is expected to get the call again for the Canucks with Roberto Luongo still sidelined while Ben Bishop is the likely starter for the Lightning.
Puck drop at 7 pm PT - Live on TSN, The TEAM 1040, or online at teamradio.ca.
Keys to the Game
Be ready to work for goals. The Lightning are a team with a reputation for being able to score but they're underrated in terms of their defensive ability. They're among the top teams when it comes to lowest goals against average this season so the Canucks have to be ready to work if they want to put a few up on the scoreboard.
The second line bounces back. The typically-solid trio of Kesler-Santorelli-Higgins had a night to forget on Monday as they were caught on the ice for all three Flyers goals and failed to crack the scoresheet. They'll want to make amends tonight and the Canucks usually find a way to win when those three contribute.
Be Jekyll on the road. It's been a tale of two teams for the Lightning when it comes to their road play. They won six of their first nine road games then went winless in seven before rebounding with three straight wins. They've been especially dominant in their current three-game road win streak out-scoring their opponents by a combined 11-3. They'll look to keep that up tonight in Vancouver.
By the Numbers
Win percentage for the Canucks all-time on New Year's Day (4-3-1). VAN hasn't played on New Year's Day since 2009.
Points percentage for the Lightning since losing Steven Stamkos to injury (11-7-4).
Years since the Lightning's last visit to Vancouver – a 5-4 overtime victory back on Dec. 11, 2010.
Years since the canucks last played on New Year's Day - a 2-1 win in Nashville in 2009.
Wins for Lightning goalie Ben Bishop this season. He had only 18 career wins prior to this season.
Years since the Canucks last played a home game on New Year's Day - a 4-0 loss to Montreal at the Pacific Coliseum in 1989.