Roberto Luongo will start back-to-back games for the first time this season as the Vancouver Canucks (2-2-2) return home following their three game California road trip to face the Colorado Avalanche (2-3-0).
Luongo was stellar in a 3-2 shootout loss to Los Angeles on Monday, making 26 saves.
“I’m excited to be getting the start tonight and hopefully build a little bit of last game and get a win,” said Luongo following Wednesday’s morning skate.
Luongo was a perfect 4-0 against the Avalanche last season with a sparkling 1.43 GAA along with a .961 save percentage.
The Canucks have feasted on the Avalanche of late posting a 15-0-2 record against their Northwest division rivals.
Despite his team’s recent run of success against Colorado, captain Henrik Sedin expects a tough matchup. “The past couple of years they’ve had a good team. They are tough team with a lot of speed, so I can’t really put a finger on why we’ve been so successful.”
Jason Garrison will be paired with Kevin Bieksa tonight as Alain Vigneault mixes up his defensive group. It’s a change that Vigneault made during the road and was pleased with the result.
“We skated a together during the lockout,” said Bieksa of his new partner, “developed some chemistry and will be fine tonight.”
Alex Edler will slot in with Dan Hamhuis while the pairing of Chris Tanev and Keith Ballard remains untouched.
An area of concern for the Canucks has been the special teams. The power play is 0-for-10 in the last two games, while the penalty kill is struggling, ranked 26th in the league.
Henrik Sedin says the team is aware of the issue.
“We’ve got a couple new players that are trying to learn the movement and the system but overall it just has to do with getting comfortable out there.”
Tonight could provide the cure for the specialty team units problems – the Avalanche have the 29th ranked power play and currently sit 24th in penalty killing.