The Canucks begin a home-and-home set with the San Jose Sharks tonight when they face their Pacific Division rival for the second time in five days.
With just 20 games left in the regular season and a realistic shot at the post-season starting to slip away, the Canucks can ill-afford anything less than two points tonight even if they are once again a team decimated by injuries. The latest addition to the sick bay is a player that has been one of the team's MVPs this season in Jannik Hansen, who was a surprise late scratch in Vancouver's 3-2 loss to the Islanders on Tuesday. The Canucks could get some good news on the injury front if Radim Vrbata is able to return tonight. Recently-recalled Brendan Gaunce, who missed practice yesterday due to lost equipment, could also draw into the line-up.
This is the second of three meetings between the Canucks and Sharks this week. The Canucks dropped a 4-1 decision this past Sunday, and will head down to San Jose for yet another rematch on Saturday night. Look for Ryan Miller and Martin Jones to be between the pipes for their respective teams. The Sharks currently sit in third place in the Pacific Division but are just four points out of first. The Canucks, meanwhile, sit 14 points back of the Sharks.
Puck drop at 7 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
Keys to the Game
Carpe diem for the new triplet. With Jannik Hansen on the shelf, there's an opportunity for someone to skate with the Sedin twins and show off his offensive ability. Emerson Etem got that chance on Tuesday and could be there again tonight. Or perhaps Jake Virtanen gets the call. Whoever it is, he needs to seize the opportunity.
Draw calls.The only part of the Canucks' game that seems to be clicking well lately has been their power play where they have gone 6-for-18 over their last seven games. It may be easier said than done against one of the least penalized teams in the league, but the Canucks need to find a way to get on the man-advantage as much as possible.
Keep shooting. With 10 goals in their last two outings, just about everything is going in for the Sharks lately. Conversely, with 31 goals allowed in their last eight games, just about everything is going in against the Canucks. San Jose will want to see those trends continue.
Canucks Game Preview
By the Numbers
Win percentage for the Canucks this season without Jannik Hansen in the line-up (2-2-1).
Trades made by the Sharks on trade deadline day. They lost F Mike Brown on waivers that day.
Straight games with a goal for Daniel Sedin. His longest streak this season is three games (Nov. 16-21).
Straight wins for the Sharks at Rogers Arena dating back to March 5, 2013.
Minutes and three seconds of ice-time for rookie D Ben Hutton on Tuesday against NYI, a new career-high. He led all Canucks that night.
Points for Brendan Gaunce this season in the AHL in 43 games played. He had 29 points in 74 games last season.
- It took a while for the Sharks' offence to get going last Sunday but when it finally did, it exploded with four third period goals en route to a 4-1 win over Vancouver. Including that third period outburst against the Canucks, the Sharks have scored in four consecutive periods including out-scoring their opponents by a combined 7-0 in third periods over their last two outings.
- This recent stretch for San Jose has helped them become one of the top scoring third period teams in the league with 69 altogether. Before this recent stretch, however, the Sharks actually surrendered more third period markers than scored on the season. They have allowed 63 third period goals this season which is more than they've surrendered in any other period.
- There may not be a line that's hotter at least to start off this week than the trio of Hertl, Thornton, and Pavelski. The Sharks' top trio combined for two goals and four points against the Canucks, and then followed that up by combining for three goals and six points on Monday in their 6-2 win over Montreal.
- Speaking of their offence, it's no secret that it's been the biggest reason for their turnaround that has not only vaulted them into a playoff spot but has them in a realistic position to perhaps even capture the division. San Jose is 16-4-4 in their last 24 outings and has scored a combined 84 goals during that stretch (3.50 goals per game). Prior to that, the Sharks were averaging just 2.66 goals per game in their first 38 games of the season.
- Former Leaf Nick Spaling is not going to be one of the players expected to lead the offensive charge but it's worth noting that he has two goals in four games since joining San Jose. He had just one goal and seven points in 35 outings with Toronto. He's been given an opportunity to skate with some pretty talented players since his arrival. Against the Canucks last Sunday he lined up with Matt Nieto and Joel Ward. Facing the Habs on Monday he took to the ice with Logan Couture and Joonas Donskoi.
- North Vancouver's Martin Jones had a successful outing facing his hometown team for the first time on Sunday turning in a solid 23-save performance. The Canucks may have just found this out on Sunday but Jones has been pretty tough to beat for the last two months. He's 15-4-2 in his last 21 starts, has allowed more than three goals in a game on just three occasions, and has a 2.07 GAA with a .925 save percentage during that stretch.