John Tortorella’s Vancouver Canucks (34-31-11) play host to Alain Vigneault’s New York Rangers (42-30-4) tonight at Rogers Arena.
It’s the second meeting of the year between these teams with the Rangers winning 5-2 at Madison Square Garden on November 30th. Chris Kreider, who is injured (hand) and will not play tonight, had a hattrick in that game.
The Canucks are back in action after 5-1 loss to Anaheim here on Saturday night. It was a 2-1 game midway through the second period before the Ducks scored three unanswered goals. The loss snapped the Canucks four-game point streak (3-0-1). Brad Richarson’s 10th of the year was the Canucks lone goal. Zack Kassian had an assist and rides a four-game point streak (2+5=7) into tonight’s contest.
Eddie Lack will make his 17th straight start tonight. He has played every minute of the past 11 Canucks game since being pulled for the third period in Dallas on March 6th. And it appears the Canucks will go with same 18 skaters they used vs Anaheim.
Former Ranger Chris Higgins is hoping to be in a New York state of mind tonight. He has gone nine games without a goal since scoring against the New York Islanders on March 10th. Ryan Kesler has 4+0=4 in his past 15 games and does not have an assist since a January 31st game in Winnipeg.
Both the Canucks and Rangers have opened the scoring 36 times this season. The Canucks are 20-10-6 (46 pts) in those situations while the Rangers are 30-5-1 (61 pts).
The Rangers are here after a 5-0 win in Edmonton on Sunday. Rookie Cam Talbot made 26 saves for his third NHL shutout. Mats Zuccarello had 2+1 while Rick Nash had a pair of goals. This is the third stop of a four game western road trip. They will play in Colorado on Thursday. Somehow in a compressed scheduled, New York managed a four game swing with no back-to-back games.
New York is 6-1 in its last seven games and 9-4-1 in its past 14. Over those 14 games, the Rangers penalty kill is 36/39 (92.3%) with six short-handed goals.
Trade deadline pick-up Martin St. Louis has gone six games without a point and has just 0+3=3 in his 14 games since joining the Rangers. However a number of Rangers are holding hot hands: Mats Zuccarello has 2+6=8 in past six games, Rick Nash and Derik Brassard each have 5 goals in past seven games and Derek Stepan has 4+14=18 in past 19 games.
Henrik Lundqvist is 24th in all-time NHL wins (306) and on March 18th became the Rangers all-time wins leader passing Mike Richter with his 302nd career victory.