The Vancouver Canucks will look to rebound from their first loss of the road trip when they make their final visit ever to the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum to take on the New York Islanders.
Give all the credit to the Canucks for the never-say-die attitude they've displayed lately but, with points so critical these days, moral victories just won't cut it. Vancouver missed an opportunity two nights ago to take two points from one of the league's bottom-feeders after dropping a 4-2 decision to New Jersey. It will be a much tougher task tonight to try and snare points away from the Islanders, the top team in the Metropolitan Division and one of the best teams in the league all season long.
The already banged-up Canucks welcomed a surprising new member to the sickbay in Alex Burrows on Friday when he was a late scratch with a lower-body injury. The prospects for a speedy recovery for Burrows don't look promising considering the Canucks recalled Nicklas Jensen yesterday from Utica (AHL). If there are any lineup changes tonight, you'd have to think someone other than Zack Kassian will be getting the hook after he turned in his first multi-goal performance of his career in the defeat in New Jersey. Ryan Miller is expected to be back between the pipes for the Canucks.
Puck drop at 3 pm PT – Live on CITY, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2014.15 Season Series
Last 10 games
Last 10 head-to-head
The Isles may have been on the wrong end of a 3-2 shootout loss yesterday against the Capitals but, for the most part, they've been riding high lately. Even with yesterday's setback, they're still 6-1-1 in their last eight outings. It's been their offence that has been driving the Isles lately. Their loss to the Caps marked the first time in eight games that they've failed to score at least three goals. Captain John Tavares has been a big part of that. He's been red hot riding a five-game point streak having amassed five goals and 11 points during that stretch.
Great starts have also been a huge part of the game plan. The Isles have opened the scoring in 37 of 60 games played this season and have a record of 23-12-2 in games where they strike first. They've opened the scoring in their last six straight games and eight of their last nine overall. They opened the scoring as well back on January 6 at Rogers Arena but they weren't able to shut the door as the Canucks clawed back to win that game. Jaroslav Halak took the loss that night so he'll be out to make amends tonight. He'll be most rested of all the Isles after getting yesterday off. Halak is also one win away from setting a new franchise record for most wins by a netminder in a single season but the Canucks will be hoping to delay history from happening.
Keys to the Game
Secondary scoring from the second unit. In recent games the Canucks have gotten contributions from their top unit and their bottom six forwards but not a whole lot from their second unit which currently includes Radim Vrbata, who is riding a season-high four-game point drought. Getting that line back on track would be a major boost.
Tame Tavares. The Canucks did something few teams have been able to this season back in their first meeting against the Islanders: silence John Tavares. Not only was he held off the scoresheet but he didn't even manage a single shot. Vancouver will want to see a repeat of that tonight.
Lead with Leddy. If you browse the NHL's new advanced stats page, you will note that Isles defenceman Nick Leddy has one of the best SAT numbers (+253). In laymen's terms, it means the Isles attack a whole lot more when he's on the ice than their opponents do. Watch for the Isles to utilize Leddy in all situations especially when they need momentum.
By the Numbers
All-time regular season win percentage for the Canucks at the Nassau Coliseum (14-25-12).
Win percentage for the Isles this season when playing on zero days rest (8-2-0).
Straight games at the Nassau Coliseum between the Canucks and Isles that have gone beyond regulation.
Straight games without a regulation loss on Long Island for the Canucks dating back to Feb. 3, 2004 (3-0-2).
Wins for Jaroslav Halak, tied for the franchise single-season record (Smith, Osgood, DiPietro).
Wins for the Isles this season. They have not had a 40-win campaign since 2006.07.