The Vancouver Canucks (23-11-7) ring in 2014 with a rare visit from the Tampa Bay Lightning (23-12-4).
The Canucks are looking to bounce back from a 4-3 shootout loss to Philadelphia on Monday night. Tom Sestito, Jannik Hansen and Daniel Sedin scored the goals for the Canucks who outshot the Flyers 44-27. That was the Canucks’ second-highest shot total of the season (47 vs TOR on November 2nd).
The Canucks wrapped up December with a 10-1-2 record and are now 6-0-2 in their last eight at Rogers Arena. Roberto Luongo took part in the team’s full morning skate, but he will not be uniform tonight. Alex Burrows, Alex Edler and Jordan Schroeder all skated prior to the team, but did not stay out with their teammates.
Jannik Hansen has scored in consecutive games and four of his past seven. Dan Hamhuis, who logged a season-high 32:30 on Monday night, has 0+4=4 on a three-game point streak.
As a team, the Canucks have scored 13 goals in their past six games. Ryan Kesler has gone 9 without a goal and Henrik Sedin has gone 6 without scoring.
Goals may be tough to come by for both teams tonight. Eddie Lack gets the start for the Canucks and is 7-2-1 with a 1.84 GAA and 92.2% while Ben Bishop is 20-5-3 for Tampa with a 1.89 GAA and a 93.5%. Lack is tied for third in the NHL in GAA while Bishop boasts the third best save percentage.
The Bolts arrive here to open a four-game road trip. The team will play seven of its next eight away from Central Florida. Despite a 4-3 loss to NYR at home on Sunday, Tampa is 5-1-1 in its last seven games and 7-2-3 in its last 12.
Longtime Canuck defenseman Sami Salo (upper body) will not play tonight, but is expected to return to the line-up on this road trip. The Bolts are 11-7-4 since Steven Stamkos injured his leg in Boston on November 11th. Tampa Bay is 15-1-1 when it opens the scoring.
The Lightning has 12 players on its current roster who have played less than 100 career NHL games. Three of their youngsters – Tyler Johnson, Richard Panik and Ondrej Palat – are among the league’s top 20 rookie scorers.
In its 21-year history, the Lightning’s only win in Vancouver came the last time they were here December 10, 2011 – the night the Canucks retired Markus Naslund’s jersey. All-time, Tampa is 1-8-3 in 12 games in this city.
Steven Stamkos skated on his own at the end of the Lightning’s morning skate. He is remarkably positive about his recovery from a broken leg suffered November 11th in Boston. He believes he’s still on track for a return to the Tampa line-up prior to next month’s Olympics.