Game 44: Canucks at Ducks (1.5.14)
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 teamradio.ca.
Keys to the Game
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.
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 struggling power play of late.
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.
By the Numbers
Goal-differential for the Canucks in their current three-game winless skid (6 vs. 10).
Win percentage for the Ducks when giving up the first goal – best in the NHL (12-5-1).
Win needed by Roberto Luongo for 250 as a Canuck.
Game win streak for the Canucks at the Honda Center dating back to December 29, 2011.
Games without a point for Mike Santorelli. His season-high drought is four games.
Wins in a row for Anaheim's Jonas Hiller, a club record.