The Vancouver Canucks (32-30-10) begin the final 10-game stretch of the 2013-14 regular season when they host the Buffalo Sabres (20-42-8) at Rogers Arena.
The Canucks are looking for consecutive victories for the first time since January 18th and 21st if they can follow up Wednesday’s 2-0 win over the Nashville Predators.
Eddie Lack made 30 saves for his fourth shutout of the season. Lack will make his 13th consecutive start tonight. He and the team are 5-6-1 in that span. Lack has held opponents to one goal or fewer in five of the past dozen games including four of his past five starts at Rogers Arena.
Daniel Sedin returns to the line-up after missing nine games with a leg injury suffered during the Heritage Classic on March 2nd. Alex Burrows will not play tonight due to a hand injury suffered in the third period against the Predators. Rookie Nicklas Jensen (3+1) carries a four-game point streak into action tonight. Jensen has 3+2 and a shootout winning goal in his seven games since being recalled from AHL Utica two weeks ago. Captain Henrik Sedin, who will be honoured prior to tonight's opening face-off for playing in his 1,000th NHL game recently, has five assists in his past three outings.
The Canucks have scored a power play goal in three straight games. The last time the Canucks struck with the man-advantage in three straight games was December 1st to 6th.
Jason Garrison enters the night’s action with 168 shots on goal this season. That’s the same number he had in Florida in 2011-12 when he scored 16 times. His next shot on goal will set a career-high for shots in a season. And with 7+25=32, Garrison’s next point will match his career-high for a single season.
The Canucks defeated the Sabres 3-0 in their first meeting of the season on October 17th. Chris Higgins, Brad Richardson and Ryan Stanton --with first in the NHL – scored the Canucks goals that night while now departed Roberto Luongo and Ryan Miller were the goaltenders in that game.
The Sabres are here after a 3-1 win in Edmonton on Thursday. Cory Conacher had his first two goals with Buffalo and also set up Drew Stafford for the Sabres other goal. Conacher now has 2+3=5 in seven games since being claimed off waivers from Ottawa. The win over the Oilers snapped a seven-game losing streak and was the team’s first victory since March 6th. Goalie Matt Hackett got the win in his first start of the season. It was his first NHL victory since March 8, 2012 when he was with Minnesota.
Abbotsford native Nathan Lieuwen will make his second NHL start in goal tonight. The former West Kelowna Warrior (BCHL) and member of the Kootenay Ice (WHL) made his big-league debut in a relief appearance last Sunday against Montreal.
Tyler Ennis leads the Sabres with 18 goals and 37 points. Former Canuck Cody Hodgson will be suiting up for the 200th game of his NHL career tonight (71 with Vancouver and 129 with Buffalo).
As a team, the Sabres have scored a league-low 130 goals in 70 games (1.86). The Canucks have scored 167 goals in their 72 games (2.32). Based on per game average, this is a match-up of the two lowest-scoring teams in the NHL.