The Vancouver Canucks hope the answer to their six-game losing streak will be found against a team that hasn't beaten them in more than a decade.
The Canucks finish the pre-Olympic portion of their schedule Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs, a team they've beaten 11 times in a row. They need to make it 12 straight if they hope to reach the break in possession of a Stanley Cup Playoff berth. The Canucks saw their hold on the second wild-card berth in the Western Conference disappear when the Phoenix Coyotes beat the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0 on Friday night.
The Canucks haven't lost to Toronto since Nov. 24, 2003, when the Maple Leafs won 2-1.
Here's a look at all of the action on Saturday, the final day of play before the League breaks for the 2014 Sochi Olympics:
Calgary Flames at Philadelphia Flyers -- The Flames' poor start has all but assured that they won't make the playoffs, but they're playing some of their best hockey of the season. A 4-2 win against the New York Islanders on Thursday evened their record on their road trip at 1-1-0 and was their sixth victory in seven games. The Flyers have won three in a row after beating the Colorado Avalanche 3-1 on Thursday thanks to a 38-save performance by Steve Mason, who gutted out the victory despite cramping from dehydration. Coach Craig Berube gave Mason the day off on Friday.
Winnipeg Jets at St. Louis Blues -- Winnipeg hasn't lost two in a row in the 12 games since Paul Maurice took over as coach after Claude Noel was fired on Jan. 12. But the Jets are coming off a 4-2 road loss to the Washington Capitals in which they surrendered three third-period goals. The Blues, who have a League-leading plus-60 goal differential, can pass the Blackhawks and move into first place with a victory. They'll have to stop blowing leads in order to do that. St. Louis has been unable to hold two-goal leads in each of its past three games, though they won two of the three after regulation.
Ottawa Senators at Boston Bruins -- The Senators are another team that could own a playoff berth going into the break if it can find a way to win. Ottawa did just that on Thursday, getting a goal by Milan Michalek with 23 seconds left to beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 after blowing a 2-0 third-period lead. Boston will again be without captain Zdeno Chara, who left early to carry the flag for Slovakia in Sochi. He wasn't in the lineup Thursday when the Bruins rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period to get a point in a 3-2 road loss to the St. Louis Blues.
Vancouver Canucks at Toronto Maple Leafs -- Vancouver outshot the Montreal Canadiens 44-29 on Thursday but couldn't generate enough offense and lost 5-2 despite two penalty-shot saves by Roberto Luongo. The good news for the Canucks is that they have only nine road games after the break -- a good thing for a team that's lost four in a row away from home. Toronto is back at Air Canada Centre after splitting two games in Florida. The Maple Leafs are 20-10-1 on their own ice but play there only nine times after the season resumes.
Montreal Canadiens at Carolina Hurricanes -- Expect Montreal coach Michel Therrien to remind his team what happened the last time the Canadiens came to PNC Arena, when a 3-0 third-period lead turned into a 5-4 overtime loss that spoiled New Year's Eve. Montreal will be without forwards Michael Bournival and Travis Moen, both of whom were injured against Vancouver. The Hurricanes have ridden the goaltending of Anton Khudobin back into the playoff race. He made 34 saves Friday night in a 5-1 victory against the Florida Panthers that moved Carolina within three points of a playoff berth in the East.
Detroit Red Wings at Tampa Bay Lightning -- It's hard to believe, but the Red Wings might be the healthier team when they take the ice at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Detroit got star center Pavel Datsyuk back on Thursday; the Lightning lost Olympian (and former Red Wing) Valtteri Filppula with a broken ankle in a 4-1 loss to Toronto. Tampa Bay may also be without both of its regular goaltenders; backup Anders Lindback is out and starter Ben Bishop left the game Thursday with an upper-body injury.
Colorado Avalanche at New York Islanders -- The Avalanche finish a four-game trip that started well with a 2-1 overtime win against the New Jersey Devils but fell flat with losses to the New York Rangers and the Flyers in which they were outscored 8-2. The Islanders' faint playoff hopes have taken a beating in the past couple of weeks. A 4-2 loss to Calgary on Thursday was their sixth in seven games and they're 12 points out of a playoff spot. The one bright spot is that defenseman Travis Hamonic was activated off injured reserve on Friday; he hasn't played since suffering a concussion on Jan. 12.
New Jersey Devils at Washington Capitals -- The Devils have had Washington's number this season, winning each of the first two meetings by one goal. Cory Schneider will make his sixth consecutive start in goal for the Devils after stopping 19 shots Friday night in a 2-1 overtime victory against the New Jersey Devils. The Capitals, who like the Devils are on the outside looking in at the playoffs, are trying to win for the third time on a four-game homestand. They've scored 10 goals in wins against Detroit and Winnipeg, sandwiched around a 1-0 loss to the Islanders.
Anaheim Ducks at Nashville Predators -- The Ducks will hit the Olympic break on top of the overall standings, but the margin isn't what it was a couple of weeks ago. Anaheim brings a three-game losing streak to Music City and was shut out in two of those three games, including a 2-0 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday. Nashville has played six of its past seven on the road and comes home after a 3-2 overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild in which the Predators earned a point despite being outshot 36-18.
Phoenix Coyotes at Dallas Stars -- The Coyotes know they'll own a playoff spot heading into the break if they can win in Dallas; the Stars could jump both Phoenix and Vancouver if they win and the Canucks lose. Ten members of the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" team were among the largest regular season crowd in the history of Jobing.com Arena when the Coyotes blanked the Blackhawks 2-0 on Friday. The Stars enter the night two points behind Phoenix in the race for the final wild card spot in the West; they'd be in a lot better shape if they weren't leaving so many points on the table. Dallas is 4-10 in extra time, including 1-6 in overtime after a 2-1 OT loss to the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday kept them from sweeping a three-game road trip.
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