The Canucks began their five-game road trip in one of the toughest buildings to play in the league in Nashville, and they will end the trip in yet another rink where opposition wins have been hard to come by at the Amalie Arena, where the Lightning are 18-4-1 this season. The biggest difference, however, is that while the Canucks went into Nashville on a two-game losing streak and seemingly in disarray, they head into tonight's road trip finale high on confidence after winning three in a row including knocking off the Panthers by a 2-1 score last night.
Vancouver, which has won four in a row just once under new bench boss Willie Desjardins, will likely turn again to red hot netminder Ryan Miller to lead them to a win over a Lightning team that has emerged as a legitimate Cup contender. Back-up netminder Eddie Lack, who typically gets the call in the back half of games on consecutive nights, is reportedly under the weather. The Canucks could once again be without forward Brad Richardson, who missed last night's game with a lower body injury sustained on Friday in the win over Carolina.
Puck drop at 4:30 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Pacific, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2014.15 Season Series
Last 10 games
Last 10 head-to-head
The Lightning, who begin play today sitting in first place in the Atlantic Division and second place overall in the Eastern Conference, put a seven-game home win streak on the line in addition to a two-game overall win streak. Despite being a team loaded with offensive firepower, it's been defence that has been the key to their home ice success. During their current seven-game home ice win streak, they've allowed two-or-fewer goals in six of those outings.
Lightning netminder Ben Bishop has been an instrumental part of the home ice win streak accounting for five of those seven straight victories. He's started the last three games in a row for Tampa Bay and figures to get the call again tonight. He was also the goaltender on record back on October 18 when the Lightning knocked off the Canucks 4-2 at Rogers Arena although it was Steven Stamkos who was the man of the hour on that night scoring twice. Tampa Bay, which is coming off a 3-2 shootout win over the Avalanche on Saturday, has not lost a home game to Vancouver in regulation since November 29, 2002 going 3-0-1 the last three times they hosted the Canucks.
Keys to the Game
Miller the magnet. So one puck got past Ryan Miller last night - not too shabby when it's the first goal he's given up in a week-and-a-half albeit he did sit out a few games in between. The bottom line is Miller is hot right now and he'll need to remain that way facing Tampa Bay's league-leading offence which averages 3.19 goals per game.
Start strong and don't look back. Of the nine goals the Canucks have scored during this win streak, four of them have come in first periods. Vancouver is traditionally a slow starter offensively – only five teams have fewer first period goals than the Canucks' 29 – but that's an aspect of their game that has been better lately and a quick start would be greatly appreciated again tonight.
Give Bishop a break. This isn't to suggest the Lightning should rest their starting netminder, but rather limit the number of shots he has to face tonight. Tampa Bay has been great all season in limiting shots (they average just 27.3 shots against per game which is among the lowest in the league) but in their last three outings combined they've been outshot by a whopping 108 to 69.
By the Numbers
Win percentage for the Canucks in their last four trips to Tampa Bay (1-3-0).
Win percentage for the Canucks this season on zero days rest (2-4-1).
Straight losses in head-to-head meetings for the Canucks against the Lightning dating back to last season.
Straight head-to-head games without a regulation loss for the Lightning against the Canucks dating back to February 9, 2010 (5-0-1).
Points (8-5-13) in six career games for Steven Stamkos against the Canucks. Three of his eight goals have been power play goals.
Career games played by Ryan Stanton. Tonight will be his 100th career game if he dresses.