The Canucks look to bounce back from Sunday's trip-opening loss in Chicago tonight when they take on the Minnesota Wild.
Sunday's loss at the hands of the Blackhawks was not quite as crushing as some of the other defeats the Canucks have endured this season. Despite the not-so-pleasing 4-0 final score, it was a game in which the Canucks were competitive in against one of the NHL's elites and had a chance to potentially earn a point or two up until the very end when Chicago pulled away for good. That being said, the NHL is a bottom-line business and the Canucks know they if they want to keep themselves in the playoff picture they need to get their road game turned around in a hurry. They are winless in their last four road outings (0-2-2) and have not secured a full two points in a contest away from home since their last visit to the Xcel Energy Center back on November 25 when they knocked off the Wild by a 3-2 score.
The Canucks had some weather-related travel issues yesterday which delayed their arrival in the Twin Cities and, as a result, did not hold their scheduled practice so any potential line-up changes won't be known at least until the morning skate at the earliest. Look for Ryan Miller to get back between the pipes again tonight while Minnesota will go with Darcy Kuemper. Kuemper will make his fourth straight start after getting the call the last three straight outings in place of the injured Devan Dubnyk even though Dubnyk will make his return to the line-up tonight.
Puck drop at 5 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Pacific, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2015.16 Season Series
Last 10 games
Last 10 head-to-head
More than half a decade has passed since the Jacques Lemaire era in Minnesota but lately the Wild have been flashing back to days gone by when goals were scarce but results were, more often than not, positive. In their last six outings – where they are 4-0-2 – Minnesota has scored a grand total of 10 goals and only more than two goals in a single contest on one occasion. On the flip side of that, however, they've only allowed five combined goals during that stretch which includes three shutout performances. If you take out goals they surrendered in 3-on-3 overtime, that total drops down to just three goals allowed. The netminding tandem of Devan Dubnyk and Darcy Kuemper deserve their fair share of praise as both have been a factor during this run including combining for one of those three shutouts (Kuemper has the other two) but they've been getting a lot of support from their defencemen. In their last four outings, the Wild have held their opponents to 25-or-fewer shots in each game while average while averaging 14.5 blocked shots per game.
While goals haven't exactly been plentiful, Minnesota is scoring just enough to earn points and wins and one player they've been able to count on to provide consistent offence is Zach Parise, who brings a four-game point streak into tonight's contest (2-3-5). Parise, however, is one of the few who has been putting up points routinely lately. The Wild would certainly like to see more from some of their other top stars who are struggling to produce at the moment. Mikko Koivu, the team's leading scorer overall this season, has just one goal in his last eight outings and that was an empty-net marker. Thomas Vanek has gone six straight games without a point while offensive defenceman Ryan Suter has gone five straight without finding the scoresheet.
Keys to the Game
Make them chase. The Wild may not score a lot, but they're getting timely markers lately opening the scoring in six of their last seven. They're a much harder to team to try and fight an uphill battle against so the Canucks know they'll need to get on the board first tonight.
Win the netminding duel. Given recent results for both teams, this game is not exactly trending towards being an offensive showcase. That being said, the difference could very well be the goalie that can make that key, timely save that the other can't.
Turn the power back on. Minnesota would certainly up their odds of winning those tight games they've been in lately if they can get their man-advantage going again. It was red hot at the start of the season but, in the last eight games, has struck just once on 21 opportunities. They went 1-for-3 against the Canucks back on November 25.
Canucks Gameday Road Report, Presented by Toyota
By the Numbers
Win for the Canucks in their last nine road outings (1-5-3).
Regulation losses for the Wild this season when they give up the first goal (13-2-2). One of those losses was to Vancouver.
Straight road games the Canucks have surrendered at least one power play goal. (Road PK this season – 75.4%).
Average shots on goal per game for the Wild this season, third fewest in the NHL. (Vancouver – 29.1).
Career regular season games played in by Bo Horvat after he suits up tonight. Congrats Bo!
Consecutive playing minutes without a goal allowed on home ice by the Wild entering play tonight.