If the Canucks were looking for a galvanizing moment that could help turn their ship around, they certainly got that on Wednesday when popular teammate Alex Burrows broke his longstanding goal drought with a two-goal performance in Vancouver's 3-2 shootout win over Winnipeg. They could have another potentially galvanizing moment in tonight's game if they manage to band together in the absence of Kesler and come up with a much-needed win over the Capitals. The Canucks' lost their top-scoring forward on Wednesday when he collided knee-on-knee with Winnipeg's Jim Slater and was forced to leave the contest. He has sinced return to Vancouver to be evaluated.
Washington, like Vancouver, is a team that is fighting desperately just to stay in the playoff picture as they currently sit outside the top-eight in their Conference. They haven't really been doing themselves many favours lately however. They've picked up just one win in their last six outings (1-4-1) and are coming off a 2-0 shutout loss to the Penguins on Tuesday. This is the second and final meeting between the Canucks and Capitals this season. Vancouver scored a 3-2 win way back on October 28 at Rogers Arena. Zack Kassian, who has missed the last three games serving an NHL suspension, is eligible to return to the Canucks' lineup tonight.
Puck drop at 4 pm PT - Live on Sportsnet Pacific, The TEAM 1040, or online at teamradio.ca.
Keys to the Game
Burrows lifts the team. You only have to look at the bench reaction to Burrows' breaking his scoring slump on Wednesday to see how much he means to this club. Now that he's gotten some of his confidence back, he needs to be a leader again on the ice and on the scoreboard.
Contain 8. The Caps might not have the best team in the league but they've got the best goal scorer. Ovi has been a sleeping giant of late, however, with no points in four games so the Canucks will want to make sure he keeps snoozing.
Shots, shots shots. The last time the Caps faced the Canucks, albeit it was way back in October, they managed just a paltry 19 shots. This team has way too much offensive firepower to only get that few shots. They should know the Canucks – and their goaltenders – are a little fragile right now so they have to take advantage.
By the Numbers
Game missed by Ryan Kesler so far this season. He will miss at least the final three games of this trip.
Straight games without a point for Ovechkin, tied for his longest point drought of the season.
Capitals to make their NHL debuts this season. The Caps' franchise record is 13.
Consecutive starts for Eddie Lack. If he starts tonight, it would be his ninth straight start.
Shots registered for the Canucks the last time they faced the Caps.
Minutes and three seconds of consecutive playing time without a goal for the Capitals.