After breaking a long goal-less drought last night in Nashville, the Canucks turn their attention to snapping a goal-less streak of another variety when they visit the St. Louis Blues.
It's a good thing the Canucks finally found the scoresheet last night in their 3-2 shootout loss to the Predators because had they failed to do so, taking on the Blues – who come into tonight's contest riding back-to-back shutouts – might seem an even more daunting task than it already is. Despite earning a point against a playoff-bound team yesterday, the Canucks' winless skid has now reached a season-high six games. They have not gone seven straight games without a win since dropping seven consecutive regulation outings from January 27 to February 8, 2014.
Barring potentially having Derek Dorsett, who is on the trip, returning tonight, it's likely the Canucks will go with the same line-up as they did last night with the exception of continuing their routine of alternating netminders meaning Jacob Markstrom will get back between the pipes. Brian Elliott, who blanked the Canucks six nights ago at Rogers Arena, will get a chance to go for his third shutout in a row tonight.
Puck drop at 5 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
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Keys to the Game
Find your swagger. Good teams don't let a little adversity derail them, and they certainly don't blow two-goal leads in third periods. The Canucks have some positives to build off of from last night despite their shootout loss. Now they just need to learn how to win hockey games again.
Make his mark. Coming off a personal record-setting game and one of the best of his career, Jacob Markstrom can expect another stiff test tonight against a Blues team that has been rolling lately on offence. He'll need another stand-on-his-head type performance as he continues to make his case for being the go-to-guy in the not-too-distant future.
Don't lose sight of the prize. Facing a team well out of the playoff hunt like the Canucks might not get the Blues fired up but the two points on the line are just as important. If St. Louis intends to keep their hopes for a Conference title alive, they have to bring their A-game tonight.
Canucks Gameday Road Report, Presented by Toyota
By the Numbers
Players tied with the season series lead in points with three: Sutter (VAN), Stastny, Schwartz, and Tarasenko.
Straight games the Canucks have earned a point in at the Scottrade Center (4-0-1; 3 straight wins).
Shots for Vladimir Tarasenko against the Canucks on March 19, tied for a personal career-high.
Time this season the Canucks will play on zero days rest (5-3-2).
Minutes and 18 seconds without a goal allowed by the Blues entering play tonight.
Minutes and 52 seconds of goal-less hockey played by the Canucks before Bo Horvat scored in the first period last night against Nashville.
- With just weeks to go before the start of the playoffs, the Blues appear to have a goaltending controversy on their hands. For now, however, there's no question which netminder they should put in net as Brian Elliott has simply been perfect since his return from injury. He wasn't exactly tested by the Canucks much last Saturday turning aside all 19 shots he faced that night in his first game back, but he had a much stiffer test against the Sharks on Tuesday and passed that with flying colours turning aside all 37 shots sent his way.
- Not giving up a goal in two straight games means, obviously, a perfect penalty kill over that stretch. Indeed, the Blues have killed off all seven combined opposition power plays over their last two outings. It's hard to believe but it's the first time the Blues, who have one of the league's best penalty kills clicking at 84.8 percent, have gone back-to-back games without giving up a power play goals in over a month.
- While Coach Hitchcock undoubtedly loves seeing his team get back to being a stingy defensive unit, he hopes it doesn't come at the expense of the offence which had been on quite a roll lately until managing just a single goal in their most recent outing against the Sharks. That was only the sixth time this season the Blues have been held to a single goal. St. Louis has yet to be shutout this season.
- If the Blues can keep their power play on a roll, they won't have to worry much about their offence. Since suffering through a season-high eight-game streak without a power play marker from January 14 to February 4, the Blues are 18-for-64 over their last 20 outings for a successful conversion rate of 28.1 percent. Their season average is 21.7 percent which is among the best in the league.
- As far as who to watch out for especially when the Blues are on the power play, their leading goal scorer and point producer Vladimir Tarasenko naturally jumps to the top of the list. However, Tarasenko is actually second when it comes to power play points on the team. Top honours belong to defenceman Kevin Shattenkirk, who has 23 points on the man-advantage this season – one more than Tarasenko.
- While Shattenkirk is a name to watch on the power play, Alex Pietrangelo would be the rearguard to watch at even strength. Pietrangelo, even though he has just four power play points this season, leads all blue-liners with 25 even-strength points – two more than Colton Parayko (who also has just 6 power play points) and 10 more than Shattenkirk. With Shattenkirk, Pietrangelo, and Parayko all on different defensive pairings, the Blues have someone capable of leading the attack from the back end at all times.