The Canucks couldn't have picked a better time to finally string together a lengthy win streak with all the teams around them in the standings also picking up points seemingly night after night. Tuesday's 5-2 victory over the Jets marked the first time that Vancouver has earned three consecutive wins since mid-January. They haven't won four in a row since the early stages of the season from October 26 to November 1. They'll look to do just that tonight when they close out their season series against the Avalanche, a team they haven't seen since November 4. The teams have split their first two meetings of the season, both of which were played in Denver.
Vancouver had several missing bodies at yesterday's practice including Alex Burrows and Jannik Hansen although both are expected to play tonight barring unforeseen circumstances. Brad Richardson was a participant at yesterday's session but he remains questionable. Eddie Lack will get the call between the pipes as he looks to help his team win for the first time when wearing the maroon and cream colours of the Millionaires.
Puck drop at 7 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Pacific, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2014.15 Season Series
Last 10 games
Last 10 head-to-head
Winning six of their first seven games to kick off the month of March allowed the Avs to briefly flirt with the idea of getting back into the playoff picture but the three-game winless skid they bring into tonight's tilt has quickly put those pipe dreams back on hold. The Avs had really been relying on the outstanding netminding of Semyon Varlamov to get them somewhat back into the race. Varlamov went into Edmonton last night with a 6-1-1 record in the month of March to go with a 1.63 GAA and a .949 save percentage but those numbers took a quick beating when he was lit up for three goals and unceremoniously yanked from the game before it was even 10 minutes old in Colorado's eventual 4-3 loss. Coach Patrick Roy stated even before yesterday's game that he had planned to start Varlamov in both ends of the back-to-back. Those plans probably won't change given that Roy seems hesitant to give backup Reto Berra the call. Berra has only started eight games this season and not one since November 25.
The other thing Coach Roy has been able to rely on in recent games has been consistent offence from his top two lines, something even more critical for them after they lost Nathan MacKinnon earlier this month with what is likely a season-ending broken foot. In their last six outings, the top line of Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan O'Reilly and Alex Tanguay have combined for nine goals and 20 points while the second unit of John Mitchell, Matt Duchene and Jarome Iginla has combined for six goals and 12 points. Goal scoring has not been an issue for Colorado in the season as they have nine tallies albeit seven of them came in one game all on Eddie Lack.
Keys to the Game
Avoid the sleepy start. Just because the last two teams that won at Rogers Arena fell behind 2-0 to start doesn't mean the Canucks want to chance it for a third time in a row. Even though the team that has given up the first goal has won both games in the season series, the Canucks would be wise to try for a more traditional path to victory.
Keep using the fresh advantage. Once again tonight the Canucks have the benefit of facing an opponent coming off a game the night before. The Avs have really struggled in the second half of back-to-backs this season winning just two of 10 games in those situations (2-5-3). Vancouver must pounce on a fatigued team that's also pretty banged-up.
Iggy keeps turning back the clock. He may be in the twilight of his career but Jarome Iginla is still putting up points like a young pup. He's hit the 50-point mark for the 16th time in his career and has nine points in 10 games in March so far. He also has a history of burning the Canucks on the scoresheet, including recording four points (2-2-4) so far this season.
By the Numbers
Goal needed by Radim Vrbata to reach 30 in a season for the 2nd time in his NHL career.
Time in team history the Canucks will wear the Millionaires jersey. They are looking for their first win in those outfits.
Straight games with a point for Daniel Sedin (2-6-8) entering play tonight.
Combined goals scored by the Canucks and Avs in their first two meetings this season. Colorado has out-scored Vancouver 9-8 overall.
Points for Yannick Weber this season, tied for his career-high. He also has an active three-game point streak (2-2-4), tied for a career-high.
Regulation/overtime wins for the Canucks this season, tied with Nashville for most in the Western Conference. The Avs have 24.