Three nights ago when the Canucks began their road trip with a 6-3 thumping at the hands of the Stars, the mood was all doom and gloom surrounding the team. What a difference one win can make. After yesterday's 4-1 victory in St. Louis, the Canucks have an opportunity to collect four out of a possible six points on their road trip provided they come away with a victory over the Avs tonight. Vancouver's win last night was due in large part to a spectacular performance from Ryan Miller, who turned aside 31 of 32 shots including all 15 he faced in the final frame. The Canucks could use a similar effort tonight from their netminder whether it's Miller or Eddie Lack, the latter who is still seeking his first win of the season.
The Avalanche, the defending Central Division champion and guided by reigning Coach of the Year Patrick Roy, came into this season with high expectations after their impressive campaign last year but have started out flat managing just a single victory in seven outings and are currently riding a three-game winless skid. They can take some solace in the fact they managed to collect a single point in their most recent outing – a 4-3 overtime setback at the hands of Roberto Luongo and the Panthers – although moral victories probably feel pretty empty for them at this point. It hasn't helped matters that both the Avs' regular netminders have had to deal with injuries this season although Reto Berra returned in Tuesday's loss to Florida while number one goaltender Semyon Varlamov will be back in the lineup tonight. Varlamov has not played since suffering a groin injury 10 days ago in a game in Toronto. Colorado took two of three meetings against Vancouver last season, including netting a 3-2 overtime win in the lone game played at the Pepsi Center back on March 27.
Puck drop at 6 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet ONE, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2014.15 Season Series
Keys to the Game
Use the power play. In the Canucks' four wins this season, they are a combined 4-for-12 on the power play. In their three losses, they are a combined 1-for-13. It's not too hard to see what can be a difference-maker for them tonight, especially against a Colorado team that has allowed power play goals in three straight games.
Take advantage of the returning Varly. Avs netminder Semyon Varlamov is playing his first game after a missing over a week of action due to a groin injury. The Canucks will want to do whatever they can to test just how healed his injury is – whether that means getting lots of shots, making him go side-to-side or, dare we say it, crease crashing.
The big boys show up. It's easy to get intimidated when you hear names like Duchene, Landeskog, O'Reilly and MacKinnon. Those names aren't so scary when you find out they've managed to combine for just five goals between them in seven games. These youngsters are the Avs' leaders and they need to start leading by example on the scoresheet.
By the Numbers
Plus-minus rating for Colorado's Tyson Barrie. Last season he led all Avs D-men with a plus-17 rating.
Save percentage for Semyon Varlamov against the Canucks last season. He went 2-0 vs. Vancouver.
Avs' win percentage after seven games – tied for their worst since moving to Denver (1998.99: 1-5-1).
Goals per game scored by the Avs this season. Last season they had the fourth-highest average at 2.99.
Points (29-46-75) for Jarome Iginla in 91 career games against the Canucks.
Regular season games played by Radim Vrbata as an Avalanche – the team he began his NHL career with.