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Daily Primer Jan. 5: Tough task for Canucks

by John Kreiser

Southern California is a great place to visit this time of year, unless you're one of the 28 NHL teams that doesn't play there.

The Vancouver Canucks are one of those teams, and they'll try to avoid back-to-back weekend losses when they take the ice against the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night.

The Canucks led 1-0 after two periods against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night, but L.A. kept firing and wound up with a 3-1 victory. Anaheim is 12 points ahead of Vancouver in the Pacific Division and hasn't lost in regulation in its 18 games at Honda Center this season.

Here's a look at all of the NHL action Sunday:

Winnipeg Jets at Pittsburgh Penguins -- Like the Canucks, the Jets have a tough back-to-back on the road this weekend. They come to Pittsburgh for a game against the Eastern Conference-leading Penguins after a 4-1 loss to the Atlantic Division-leading Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Saturday. The Penguins, 18-3-0 at Consol Energy Center after beating the New York Rangers 5-2 on Friday, might have center Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Kris Letang back in the lineup. They skated Saturday at practice, and coach Dan Bylsma said he'll evaluate them before making a decision prior to game time.

Nashville Predators at Carolina Hurricanes -- The Predators and Hurricanes flew to Raleigh, N.C., from different directions and different endings to their games Saturday night. Nashville rallied from a 4-2 deficit late in regulation to force overtime against the Florida Panthers, but lost the game 5-4 in a shootout. The Predators are 0-4 in tiebreakers. Carolina came home after holding off the New York Islanders 3-2 thanks to a 38 saves by Anton Khudobin. The Hurricanes might not have captain Eric Staal, who left the game on Long Island with a lower-body injury in the second period and didn't return.

San Jose Sharks at Chicago Blackhawks -- NHL coaches harp about making sure their teams "start on time." San Jose didn't do that Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche in Denver; the Sharks allowed the game's first four goals, scored the next three, and came up one short in a 4-3 loss. Chicago is back at United Center after splitting two games during a snowy trip to the New York area, losing to the New York Islanders before beating the New Jersey Devils 5-2 on Friday thanks to a hat trick by Patrick Sharp.

Tampa Bay Lightning at Edmonton Oilers -- The Lightning will go for a sweep of the three Western Canada teams when they visit Rexall Place, where the Oilers are back home after being dominated in back-to-back road losses to the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks. Tampa Bay has allowed two goals in beating the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames. Edmonton has lost four in a row since the Christmas break and didn't show a lot in 5-1 and 5-2 losses to the Sharks and Ducks. The three members of the Oilers top line -- Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and David Perron -- sat out part of the third period in Anaheim and finished a combined minus-9.

Vancouver Canucks at Anaheim Ducks -- The good news for the Canucks on Saturday was the return of Roberto Luongo, who made 48 saves in his first game back after a lower-body injury. Vancouver led 1-0 after two periods, but the Los Angeles Kings finished with the most shots allowed by the Canucks this season. The Ducks shook off a shaky start and beat the Edmonton Oilers 5-2 on Friday to improve to 16-0-2 at home; they are the third team in the past 25 years to open the season by getting points in 17 or more consecutive home games. Anaheim is 15-0-2 at Honda Center and has won six in a row in its building.

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