NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, February 2nd (All times eastern)
Vancouver Canucks (34-18-2) at Montreal Canadiens (25-25-6), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - A matchup against one of the NHL's hottest teams won't make it easy for the Montreal Canadiens to break out of their current slump. Doing so without their leading goal scorer figures to add to the challenge.
The Vancouver Canucks head to the Bell Centre aiming for an eighth straight victory in this evening's clash between the Northwest Division leaders and the ailing Canadiens.
Vancouver's seven-game surge is its longest since the 2006-07 season and has given the club a four-point advantage over second-place Colorado in the Northwest. The Canucks maintained their recent winning ways with Saturday's 5-3 triumph at Toronto, thanks to a stirring third-period comeback led by twin brothers Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
The Canucks trailed 3-0 after one period and were down by two goals before scoring four times in the final 17 minutes. Daniel Sedin had two of those tallies, including the go-ahead marker off an assist from his brother with 2:04 left to play.
Alexandre Burrows also scored twice for Vancouver, the last of which was a game-sealing empty-netter with 38 seconds remaining, and added a pair of assists on the night. Henrik Sedin had the Canucks' other goal, while Andrew Raycroft aided the comeback by stopping all 13 shots he faced after replacing regular netminder Roberto Luongo after the first period.
"It's a great feeling for him," Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault said of Raycroft, a former member of the Maple Leafs. "He didn't get a lot of work in the second (period) but he had a few saves he had to make in the third. He did a great job for us."
The uplifting win provided a positive start to the longest stretch of consecutive road games in NHL history. Due to the upcoming Winter Olympics, Vancouver will play 14 straight contests away from home, with eight of those tilts scheduled for prior to the Olympic break.
The Canucks, who will be attempting to win eight in a row for the first time since a 10-game streak from November 9-30, 2002, will be relying heavily on the Sedins during this daunting trek. The duo have been sensational over the course of Vancouver's present unbeaten run, with Henrik having notched five goals and nine assists over the seven outings and Daniel producing four goals and 10 helpers.
Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff has done his part as well, recording a point in Vancouver's last five games (2 goals, 3 assists).
While the Canucks are flying high, their opponent this evening is going through a rough time of late. Montreal completed a winless three-game road trip with Saturday's 3-2 loss at rival Ottawa, in which the Habs lost standout forward Mike Cammalleri for an extended amount of time due to an injury to his right knee.
Cammalleri hurt himself during the third period of Saturday's setback after colliding with Senators defenseman Anton Volchenkov, and initial reports have the 27-year-old slated to miss between 6-to-8 weeks. He leads the Canadiens with 26 goals this season and has generated 48 points in the team's 56 games.
Ottawa earned its ninth straight victory when Mike Fisher knocked home his own rebound with 1:27 left in overtime.
"I thought for 60 minutes it was pretty even," Montreal head coach Jacques Martin said. "They're the hottest team in the league right now. They have four lines playing pretty well...but I thought we battled hard."
Benoit Pouliot and Brian Gionta both scored for Montreal, which received 34 saves out of Jaroslav Halak in a losing cause.
The defeat was the sixth in eight games for the Canadiens, now tied for ninth in the tightly-contested Eastern Conference with 56 points. The team also hasn't had much success lately in this series, with Vancouver having posted a stellar 13-1 record with one tie in its last 15 bouts against Montreal.
The Canucks routed the Habs by a 7-1 count in Vancouver back on October 7, with Henrik Sedin leading the way with two goals and two assists and brother Daniel racking up a trio of helpers.
02/02 10:41:12 ET