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Game 27: Canucks at Maple Leafs (12.06.14)

by Daniel Fung / Vancouver Canucks
The Vancouver Canucks invade the centre of the universe tonight when they pay their lone visit of the season to the Air Canada Centre to battle the Toronto Maple Leafs on Hockey Night in Canada.

You can look at tonight's game as being the fifth of seven on their current road trip, or as 27th of 82 in the overall season. But one way you can't look at this game, however, is as 'just another game.' That's always the case when the Canucks and Maple Leafs hook up despite being non-conference opponents. For the first time in over a decade, the Canucks, who were 3-0 winners over the Penguins on Thursday, are coming off a loss in their all-time series against the Leafs. During the disastrous 2013.14 Tortorella-led campaign, among the indignities suffered by the Canucks included having their 11-game win streak against Toronto – a streak that had been over a decade in the making – come to an end in their most recent trip to the ACC in a 3-1 loss on February 8. They'll want to make amends tonight but it won't be a cakewalk against a Toronto club that has been putting together positive results lately despite a loss in their last outing.

The Leafs are coming off their first outright defeat in over two weeks after dropping a 5-3 decision to the Cory Schneider's Devils on Thursday – a loss that snapped their season-high five-game point streak (4-0-1) and their season-high four-game home win streak. The Leafs haven't lost consecutive games since their three-game swoon from November 14 to 18 which was capped by a 9-2 home ice loss to the Predators that featured yet another infamous jersey toss at the Air Canada Centre. Barring an attempt to change things up, look for Leafs coach Randy Carlyle to turn once again go with Jonathan Bernier between the pipes. Bernier has established himself as the clear-cut number one this season and has started the last seven in a row for Toronto. The Canucks, meanwhile, are expected to go back to Ryan Miller despite Eddie Lack's 21-save shutout performance on Thursday in Pittsburgh. This is the first of two meetings between Vancouver and Toronto this season. The Maple Leafs will pay their lone visit to Rogers Arena this season on March 14.

Puck drop at 4 pm PT – Live on CBC, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.

Regular Season Record

18-7-1 13-9-3

2014.15 Season Series

0-0-0 0-0-0

All-time Series

61-51-24 53-60-23
 

Keys to the Game

Keep up the forecheck. A strong, solid forecheck was directly responsible for all three goals the Canucks scored on Thursday against the Penguins and was a big reason for why they dominated Pittsburgh for long stretches of time in the offensive zone as well. Vancouver will want to repeat that tonight.

Take control early. A good reason to get on the board quickly tonight if you're the Canucks is because the Leafs are just 3-9-3 this season when they give up the first goal. The best reason why they'll want to have a flying start? There's nothing like watching the unpredictable reaction of the unforgiving Toronto crowd when their beloved Leafs are losing. Just beware of flying jerseys.

Santorelli keeps striking. Despite only being with the Canucks for a short time, Mike Santorelli became a fan-favourite because of his offensive ability. He's quickly earning the same status in Toronto. In fact, he's been one of the hottest Leafs in recent weeks as he brings a five-game point streak into tonight's contest (1-8-9).


By the Numbers

0

Career games played by Eddie Lack against the Maple Leafs.

3.36

Goals per game averaged by the Leafs this season, more than half-a-goal more than they averaged last season (2.71).

6

Straight starts without a regulation loss against the Leafs for Ryan Miller dating back to March 21, 2013 (4-0-2).

10

Wins this season, and no losses, for the Leafs when they open the scoring in a game.

14

Combined points on this road trip for members of Vancouver's 3rd line (Vey-Richardson-Matthias), leading all lines.

32

Career wins for Ryan Miller against Toronto, most he has against any NHL team (50 career games played).

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