NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Friday, February 12th
(All times eastern)
Vancouver Canucks (36-21-2) at Columbus Blue Jackets (25-27-9), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The suddenly-surging Columbus Blue Jackets will try to
claim a season-high fourth victory in a row in this evening's matchup against
the Vancouver Canucks, who continue their epic road trip at Nationwide Arena.
The Blue Jackets have posted their fourth three-game win streak of the season
and haven't lost since replacing former head coach Ken Hitchcock with Claude
Noel on an interim basis last week. Columbus is outscoring its opponents 9-1
over its win streak, winning each of the last two games by shutout.
Steve Mason has been in net for all three wins, stopping 90-of-91 shots faced.
He has shut out Buffalo and San Jose in back-to-back contests after leading
Columbus to a 2-1 victory over Dallas in Noel's debut on February 4.
Mason made 28 saves in blanking the Sabres on Saturday, then turned aside all
40 shots he faced in Wednesday's 3-0 triumph over the Sharks. Mason hasn't
allowed a goal in 120 minutes and 47 seconds and extended his franchise record
by notching his 14th career shutout.
"I thought Mase was great," said Noel of his netminder. "I didn't think he had
to be great for the whole 60 minutes, but he was really good when he had to
and he made some marvelous saves. He's one of the reasons why we won the
Mason, last year's top rookie, is 16-18-6 with a 3.06 goals-against average
this season after going 33-20-7 with a 2.29 GAA and 10 shutouts in 2008-09.
Rick Nash notched his team-leading 26th goal and 55th point in the win over
the Sharks, while Jakub Voracek halted a 26-game goal drought. Antoine
Vermette also scored for the Blue Jackets, who are perfect on a six-game
homestand that wraps after the Olympic break. Columbus hosts Chicago on Sunday
before welcoming Vancouver back to Nationwide Arena on March 2.
Mason has had his ups and downs with the Canucks this year. He made 40 saves
in a 5-3 victory at Vancouver on October 5, but then halted just 11-of-17
shots in a 7-3 road setback on January 5, getting pulled in the second period.
Alexandre Burrows had a hat trick for the Canucks, while Henrik Sedin had a
goal and two assists and Roberto Luongo made 30 saves.
The loss was just the Blue Jackets' second in their last eight games versus
the Canucks, and they have won three straight and four of their last five as
the host against Vancouver.
The Canucks are 3-3-0 on a 14-game road trip that has two games remaining
before the Olympic break. Following tonight's test, Vancouver visits Minnesota
on Sunday before resuming the trek with six road games following the Olympics.
Vancouver has won nine of its last 12 games overall after last night's 3-0
blanking of Florida. Luongo made 31 saves for his fourth career shutout and
51st of his career.
Burrows notched his team-leading 26th goal, Ryan Kesler also lit the lamp and
Jannik Hansen had a big goal with the Canucks short-handed late in the second
"They tried to dump the puck in and it took a couple of bad bounces on the ice
and suddenly their four guys are going one way and I'm going the other way
with the puck," Hansen told Vancouver's Web site. "Then it's a matter of
putting the puck where you want it and I was fortunate enough that it went
The Canucks are tied with the Colorado Avalanche for first place in the
Northwest Division with 74 points and improved to 13-14-1 on the road this
02/12 10:42:27 ET