NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, January 9th (All times Eastern)
Vancouver Canucks (26-13-3) at Florida Panthers (20-13-8), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Vancouver Canucks will try to carry over some momentum from Saturday's emotional victory in Boston when they visit the Florida Panthers at BankAtlantic Center for tonight's battle between first-place clubs.
The Canucks won the Western Conference last spring before losing to Boston in seven games during the Stanley Cup Finals. Vancouver exacted a small measure of revenge Saturday in Beantown, as they edged the Bruins, 4-3, in the first meeting between the teams since June 15, when Boston recorded a 4-0 win in Game 7 to earn its first title since 1972.
Henrik Sedin, who leads the NHL with 49 points, scored one of three consecutive power-play goals that lifted the Canucks over the Bruins on Saturday. The teams combined for 72 penalty minutes in the first period alone and totaled 107 PIM in the game.
Alexandre Burrows, Cody Hodgson and Ryan Kesler also tallied for Vancouver, which was shut out by Tim Thomas in Game 7 last year, but the Canucks beat the reigning Conn Smythe and Vezina Trophy winner four times on 36 shots Saturday. All four of Vancouver's goals were on the power play and Hodgson's tally, which came 69 seconds into the third period, was the deciding score.
Vancouver, which leads the Northwest Division by seven points over Minnesota, finished 4-for-11 on the power play on Saturday. The Canucks are first in the NHL with a 24.4-percent success rate on the man advantage this year.
Kevin Bieksa had two assists and Cory Schneider made 36 saves to earn the win, Vancouver's second in a row and fifth in seven games.
"It was a pretty complete effort, everybody chipped in in different areas and here we are victorious," said Bieksa. "No Stanley Cup, but we still won the game."
After getting a rest on Saturday, No. 1 netminder Roberto Luongo is expected to get the start tonight against his former team. Luongo, who played with Florida from 2000-06, is 4-0-1 with a 1.74 goals-against average in five career outings against the Panthers.
Canucks defenseman Sami Salo is expected to miss tonight's test after leaving Saturday with a shoulder injury caused by a low check from Boston's Brad Marchand in the second period. Marchand received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for the hit and could be facing a suspension. Vancouver scored twice during the five-minute power play.
Saturday's game marked the start of a four-game road trip for Vancouver, which boasts a 14-8-1 record as the guest this season.
While the Canucks are building a comfortable lead atop the Northwest, the Panthers enter tonight with a three-point lead over Winnipeg for first place in the Southeast. Florida has not helped its cause lately, however, losing two straight, three of four and six of its last eight trips to the ice.
The Panthers recently played on back-to-back nights in the New York/New Jersey area, dropping Thursday's 3-2 overtime decision to the Rangers before losing to the Devils, 5-2, on the following night in Newark. Those setbacks extended Florida's road losing streak to six games and the Panthers are now 10-9-3 as the guest this season.
Florida and New Jersey were tied at 2-2 after 40 minutes on Friday, but the Devils scored three unanswered goals in the third period to skate away with the win.
Mikael Samuelsson and Krys Barch lit the lamp for the Panthers, while Jacob Markstrom turned aside 24-of-27 shots. Barch returned from a one-game suspension for uttering a racial remark in the direction of Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban last week.
"We have to start winning on the road. There's no excuses," said Barch. "You have to get two points."
This evening's tilt is the first test of a three-game homestand for the Panthers, who are 10-4-5 this season in Sunrise. Florida will also host Pittsburgh and Boston during this residency.
The Canucks have won their last three meetings against Florida and are 8-0-1 with two ties over the last 11 encounters in this series. Vancouver has taken three of four at BankAtlantic Center.
01/09 10:36:49 ET