Nothing brings more joy over the holiday season than a win streak and so, understandably, the Canucks were a cheerful bunch heading into Christmas thanks to back-to-back wins over the Flames and Coyotes right before the holiday break - the latter win of the blowout variety as Vancouver tallied a season-high seven goals in a 7-1 romp over Arizona. The Canucks will face a much stiffer test tonight as they begin their post-holiday schedule taking on the league's top team, the Ducks. Back on December 4, right after the Canucks had blanked the Penguins 3-0, Vancouver sat tied for top spot in the Western Conference with the Ducks with 37 points and held a game in hand on Anaheim. Tonight, however, the Canucks enter play sitting 10 points behind the Ducks albeit with four games in hand. The Canucks will welcome Jannik Hansen back into their lineup tonight after he sat out Monday due to precautionary reasons. Zack Kassian, who has been out since suffering a finger injury back on November 25 against New Jersey, is with the team on their two-game California road swing but is not expected to dress tonight.
While the Canucks had stumbled over the past couple of weeks before their recent two-game win streak, the same can't be said of their opponent. The Ducks are enjoying an outstanding month of December so far having won nine of 12 games while earning points in all-but-two of those outings. They are, however, coming off a rare loss after dropping a 2-1 shootout decision to the Coyotes last night. Anaheim hasn't lost back-to-back games since closing out November with consecutive losses to Chicago and San Jose. While Ryan Miller is expected to get the start for the Canucks tonight, the Ducks might be tempted to give the recently reacquired Ilya Bryzgalov the nod after number one netminder Frederik Anderson played last night. Bryzgalov has played just four periods (one full game) since re-joining the Ducks and has yet to post a victory allowing eight goals on 38 total shots faced. This is the third of five meetings between the Canucks and Ducks this season. Each team has earned a road shootout victory over the other so far in the season series.
Puck drop at 5 pm PT – Live on CITY, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2014.15 Season Series
Keys to the Game
Push the offence. Vancouver won't want to spot Anaheim a lead like they did the last time they played, but they'll want to be the ones set the pace. It's worth noting that, heading into the holiday break, the Canucks were tied for the best goals-per-game average in the Western Conference with Chicago at 2.94 per game so it's not as if they can't keep up on the scoresheet.
Advantage: Canucks. In their two games prior to the Christmas break, the Canucks went a combined 4-for-10 on the power play thanks in part to Alex Burrows being put on the top unit and a suddenly-rejuvenated second unit. If there's one weakness the Ducks have had over the past month, it's their penalty kill which has allowed goals in nine of 12 games (11 goals allowed on 36 times shorthanded).
Getzlaf keeps going. Losing linemate Corey Perry hasn't slowed Ryan Getzlaf down one bit. During Perry's current absence due to injury (nine games and counting), Getzlaf has carried on just fine netting four goals and 14 points during that stretch. He's also riding a season-high seven-game point streak.
By the Numbers
Win percentage for the Canucks this year at Christmas. (Last season: .564 - 22-11-6).
Win percentage for the Canucks against divisional opponents this season (9-2-1), best among all Pacific Division teams.
Point, in two games played, for Ryan Kesler against the Canucks this season. He also has four shots and a minus-one rating.
Wins for the Ducks so far in December. They need two more to tie a team record for December (11-1-1 in 2013). They have two games left this month.
Wins in one-goal games for the Ducks this season (17-0-6), most in the NHL. Only ANA and VAN have not lost in regulation in one-goal games.
Consecutive games played by Anaheim's Andrew Cogliano, who recently became the NHL’s leading active ironman.