The Canucks play the first of two straight games against the San Jose Sharks tonight as they begin a home-and-home series versus their Pacific Division foe.
It would be an understatement to suggest that home ice has not been kind all season long to the Canucks, who have a league-low 13 victories in front of their home fans. The Sharks are one of the teams that have walked into Rogers Arena this season with a swagger and rightfully so. Not only have they won both their games played here this season but they're riding a win streak in Vancouver that stretches back over three years. The Canucks would love nothing more than to put an end to that streak tonight rather than allowing it to continue on through another off-season.
The Canucks will get a small boost to their line-up when they face a Sharks team that earned a 5-2 victory last night over the Kings to clinch their ticket to the post-season. Markus Granlund, who has missed the last seven games with an upper-body injury, is expected to return tonight with Linden Vey likely the odd man out. Look for Jacob Markstrom to be between the pipes for Vancouver, who is looking to put a halt to an eight-game winless skid.
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
Play to the end. In both head-to-head meetings against the Sharks played at Rogers Arena this season, the Canucks have taken leads into the final frame only to watch the Sharks stage a furious comeback to win. If they put themselves in a similar position tonight, they have to find a way not to collapse at the end.
Try(amkin) it again on the power play. The Canucks got a small taste of what it looks like to have big-bodied Russian Nikita Tryamkin as the net front presence on the power play. Although it didn't lead to any goals, it did generate a couple of good chances. With the man-advantage just 1-for-30 over the last 11 outings, this formation is certainly worth another experiment.
Stay out of trouble. In the most recent clash between the teams on March 5, the normally-disciplined Sharks lost their cool in a big way taking 36 minutes worth of penalties while handing the Canucks seven power plays of which Vancouver cashed in on three of them. San Jose won't want to give them that many cracks at it this time.
Canucks Game Preview
By the Numbers
Wins in the season series for the team that has opened the scoring through three games.
Goals scored by the Canucks in the last three games that Jacob Markstrom has started.
Players with three points each in the season series to tie for the lead.
Straight wins for the Sharks at Rogers Arena dating back to March 5, 2013 (7 regular season + 2 playoffs).
Time (and last) the Sharks will play on zero days rest this season. They are 7-4-2 (three straight wins).
Shots on goal recorded by Brent Burns this season, a new single-season franchise record for the Sharks (2nd most this season behind only Alex Ovechkin).
- The Sharks ended their three-game losing streak last night with an emphatic 5-2 victory over the Kings. Leading the offensive charge was defenceman Justin Braun, who doubled his season goal output to four with two in the victory.
- Getting offensive contributions from unexpected sources such as Braun are certainly a welcome sight for the Sharks who have had some offensive woes of late although they're still the third-leading goal scoring team in the league averaging 2.91. They managed just five combined goals over their three-game losing streak before exploding for five against the Kings.
- Having someone like blue-liner Marc-Edouard Vlasic out certainly affects the offence adversely. Vlasic has shattered his previous-career high in points this season with 39, and is just one shy of tying a career-high in goals as he currently has eight on the season. He hasn't played since March 17 with an undisclosed injury. Vlasic has three assists in three games against the Canucks this season.
- One thing you can say for certain about the Sharks is that their top guys – namely Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, and Brent Burns – have come to play this season. They've been remarkably consistent with their offensive production as well. Thornton has not gone back-to-back games without a point since mid-December, Pavelski brings a three-game point streak into tonight's contest and has seven points in his last six outings, while Burns also brings a three-game point streak into tonight's game and his 69 points are a new franchise-record for a defenceman.
- The Sharks have done the majority of their damage in third periods this season against the Canucks out-scoring Vancouver 7-2 in the final frame. Third period offence has actually been a theme for San Jose all season long. Their 85 goals in third periods sits tied for third in the league. Only the Capitals (92) and Stars (89) have more third period goals than the Sharks.
- As good as the Sharks' offence has been all year, they don't get nearly enough credit for their stifling defence. San Jose averages just 27.5 shots against per game this season, tied for the second-fewest in the league. Only Nashville (27.2) surrenders fewer shots per game on average. Before giving up 32 shots to the Kings last night, they went nine straight games where they allowed 26-or-fewer shots including twice holding their opponent to below 20 shots.