The Vancouver Canucks (28-24-10) host the Ottawa Senators (26-23-11) in the Heritage Classic at BC Place Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Canucks are expected to give Eddie Lack a third straight start after he made 22 saves and six more in a seven-round shootout in a 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Friday night. Lack has given up just two goals and stopped 70 of 72 shots (97.2%) in his last three starts (at DET, vs STL & vs MIN), but has only managed one victory (1-1-1) as the team in front of him has only scored two goals in those games.
Offense continues to be an issue for the Canucks who have scored once in each of their two games since the Olympic break. The team has scored six goals in its last six games and 24 goals in its past 16 outings. Ryan Kesler netted his 21st of the season on Friday. It was his first short-handed goal – and point – of the season. Kesler and Chris Higgins each have four goals to lead the team over the past 16-game stretch.
The Canucks had a golden opportunity to win Friday's contest in overtime, but were unable to convert on a 4-on-3 power play. The Canucks are 3 for their last 40 (7.5%) with the man-advantage over the past 12 games. Jason Garrison is set to play his 300th NHL game this afternoon.
The Canucks begin play today tied with Dallas and Winnipeg for the final wild card spot in the NHL's Western Conference. The team has 20 games remaining in the regular season. The Canucks beat the Senators 5-2 in Ottawa on November 28th in their only other meeting of the season. Daniel Sedin scored his 300th career NHL goal that night as the Canucks exploded for four second period goals to take control. Daniel (10+11=21) and Henrik (6+15=21) each have more than half their 40 points this season against Eastern Conference foes.
The Sens kickoff a four-game Western Canadian road trip that will also see them stop in Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg. They start the day five points out of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Ottawa fell 6-1 to Detroit in the nation's capital on Thursday in the team's first game back after the Olympic break. The Sens have the same number of wins (13) at home and on the road this season.
Veteran Craig Anderson gets the start in goal. He has not played since being chased from the net in a 7-2 loss to Boston on February 8th. He did not dress on Thursday due to personal reasons.
Erik Karlsson leads the Sens – and all NHL defensemen -- in scoring with 15+40=55. Bobby Ryan is the team's leading goal-scorer with 22. The top five scorers in today's game all play for Ottawa: Karlsson, Spezza (45), Ryan & Turris (44) and MacArthur (42).
Strangely, the Senators have the best road power play in the NHL (27.3%) and the worst home PP (10.6%). They have scored 27 of their 38 PPG on the season away from home. Overall, their PP sits 15th in the NHL at 18.7%.
The Canucks have won the past six match-ups between these teams. And Vancouver swept Ottawa in three games to win the 1915 Stanley Cup Final.
The Sens are 1-7-2 vs. Pacific Division this season with their lone victory coming in Phoenix last October.