You can understand if the Canucks may be feeling a sense of déjà vu heading into tonight's showdown with the Panthers. After all it was less than two weeks ago on January 8 that the Canucks, coming off back-to-back wins, welcomed the Cats to Rogers Arena only to turn in a listless performance in a 3-1 defeat – a loss that would set the stage for two more to follow.
The Canucks find themselves in a similar spot tonight coming off not only consecutive wins but consecutive shutouts including blanking the Hurricanes 3-0 in their last outing on Friday. Not everything is rosy with the team, however. Brad Richardson sustained a lower-body injury in the victory over Carolina and, after skipping practice yesterday, is questionable for tonight. If he can't go, look for Zack Kassian to get a chance to slot back in after being a healthy scratch for two consecutive games. Ryan Miller is expected to start in goal as he looks to build on his back-to-back shutouts.
Puck drop at 4:30 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2014.15 Season Series
Last 10 games
Last 10 head-to-head
The Panthers looked like world-beaters when they rolled into Rogers Arena back on January 8 and just about dominated the Canucks in every facet of the game but they've come down to earth since then. They bring a three-game winless streak into tonight's contest – their most recent setback came on Saturday in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Oilers – and are looking to avoid going winless in four straight for the first time all season.
The Panthers, who rank at the bottom of the league in average attendance attracting just fewer than 11,000 fans per game despite having an improved team, are also looking to put an end to a season-high four-game winless skid at the BB&T Center. Despite their recent struggles, they've gotten solid production from a couple of youngsters in 21-year-old Jonathan Huberdeau and 19-year-old Aleksander Barkov, who bring matching three-game point streaks into tonight's tilt. Barring the unforeseen – and it would have to be a real doozy of a reason – look for Roberto Luongo between the pipes for the Panthers.
Keys to the Game
Use your speed. The Canucks team speed (or lack thereof) has come under fire at times this season but on Friday against the Hurricanes they showed they still have the ability to catch opposition defencemen flatfooted scoring on two breakaways and getting a third goal on a partial breakaway. Their team speed was non-existent the last time they played the Cats. Tonight has to be different.
The PP must be a difference-maker. Luongo's return to Vancouver could have ended on a much different note had the Canucks managed to capitalize on the power play opportunities they received, which included 39 seconds with a 5-on-3 advantage. The Panthers are pretty stingy 5-on-5 so the Canucks have to make sure those power plays are put to good use.
Louie's revenge Part II. Luongo's first game this season against the Canucks was so nice, but can he do it twice? He's had a few rough outings since that memorable night at Rogers Arena 11 days ago winning just one of four starts and was also pulled in a game in Winnipeg six nights ago after allowing four goals on 20 shots.
By the Numbers
Win percentage for the Canucks against Atlantic Division teams (3-5-1).
Win percentage for the Panthers against Pacific Division teams (7-2-1).
Straight games (3-0-1) without a regulation loss for the Panthers against the Canucks dating back to January 9, 2012.
Game home winless streak for the Panthers entering play tonight (0-2-2). They've been out-scored 12-7 during that stretch.
Minutes and 21 seconds of consecutive game play without a goal allowed by the Canucks entering tonight's game.
Career games played by Roberto Luongo, 11th place on the all-time NHL list one ahead of Jacques Plante.