CANUCKS (31-15-5) at AVALANCHE (26-25-2)
TV: SNET-P (HD), ALT (HD)
Last 10: Vancouver 6-2-2; Colorado 3-6-1
Season Series: It's the third of six regular-season meetings between these Northwest Division rivals. In the last one on Dec. 6, Daniel Sedin notched a hat trick as the Canucks rolled to a 6-0 win. Vancouver has outscored Colorado 9-0 in two head-to-head wins this season.
Big Story: The Avs welcome the division-leading Canucks to Pepsi Center trying to put the wheels back on the bus. Colorado mustered 37 shots against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, but Niklas Backstrom registered a 1-0 shutout as the Avs suffered their fourth straight loss. The Canucks had their three-game win streak snapped by losing 4-3 in a shootout to the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday at Rogers Arena.
Canucks: The Wings were on the top of their game in Vancouver, getting 43 shots on Roberto Luongo. But Luongo made 40 saves, and Ryan Kesler, Alexandre Burrows and Mason Raymond each answered Detroit goals to help Vancouver earn a point. But Detroit got the extra point when Pavel Datsyuk and Jiri Hudler scored in the shootout and Jimmy Howard stopped two shots -- dropping Vancouver to 3-5 in the tiebreaker.
"You have to take the positives out of it," Kesler said. "We obviously fought through a lot. We're down twice, three times in the game, and battled back every time and got a point out of it, which was important."
Avalanche: For the second time in a three-game stretch, the Avs failed to gain ground in a home game against the Wild, who occupy the final playoff spot in the West. Colorado opened up a four-game homestand by outshooting Minnesota 37-21, but was held without a goal on home ice for the third time this season.
The Avs bring a four-game losing streak into the game against the Canucks, with all four losses by one goal.
"It's real frustrating," rookie forward Gabriel Landeskog told the Denver Post. "We should have gotten a couple of goals on them [Thursday]. I know I had some chances in close. We have to just try to reload and get the next game."
Who's Hot: Kesler's goal extended his point streak to four games (three goals, one assist). … Colorado's Ryan O'Reilly has accumulated four goals and four assists over his last nine games.
Injury Report: Chris Higgins (illness) did not travel with the team and will miss Saturday's game at Colorado. Andrew Ebbett (collarbone surgery) and Aaron Volpatti (shoulder surgery) remain out for Vancouver. ... Matt Duchene (knee) is several weeks away from returning to the Avs' lineup.
Stat Pack: After leading the NHL by converting on 24.3 percent of their power-play chances last season, the Canucks lead the League again in that category (22.9) through 51 games this season.
Puck Drop: The Canucks begin a four-game trip looking for the kind of dominance they had for most of last season but have shown only in spurts in 2011-12.
"There's times during the season when you are not going to have everyone at 100 percent, and I think right now we are in a stretch where we're not executing," captain Henrik Sedin told the Vancouver Sun. "But we have a good group in here and we are going to be in a lot of games, we are going to battle back in a lot of games. But this is not the way we want to get our points."
|D. Van Der Gulik||20||1||4||5||+2||2||0||0|