Oilers at Canucks
(Sports Network) - The Vancouver Canucks seek to extend a club-record 14-game point streak and win eight in a row for the first time in over eight years as they host the Edmonton Oilers this evening at Rogers Arena.
The Canucks are 12-0-2 since their last regulation loss on Dec. 5 and lead the NHL with 57 points, one ahead of the Penguins and two up on the Red Wings. Vancouver's current seven-game win streak is a season best, one that was extended with a 3-1 triumph over Calgary on Wednesday.
Daniel Sedin scored his 22nd goal of the season and Ryan Kesler added his 20th as the Canucks became the first team this year with a pair of 20-goal scorers. Kevin Bieksa added a goal and an assist and Robert Luongo lost his shutout bid with just 11 seconds left before ending with 43 saves.
"It's tough to let one in the last few seconds, but we got the two points so I'm just going to move on," Luongo said. "Obviously I want to stop them all. So I'm disappointed I let one in at the end."
The Canucks picked up a win in the opener of a three-game homestand and have now won five in a row at the host. They haven't won eight straight overall since claiming 10 consecutive victories from Nov. 9-30, 2002.
After winning four of the six meetings last year, the Canucks have bested the Oilers in all three meetings so far this season. Vancouver took the first two clashes in Edmonton before a 3-2 home win on Dec. 26 gave the club a victory in four straight and six of the last seven meetings at Rogers Arena.
Raffi Torres, Bieksa and Henrik Sedin all have four points versus the Oilers this year, with Torres notching his first career hat trick against his former club on Nov. 2. Luongo has a pair of wins over Edmonton this year and is 6-1-0 with a 1.86 goals-against average in his last seven versus the club.
The Oilers will be looking to win consecutive games for the first time since a four-game win streak from Nov. 29-Dec. 4. They halted a seven-game losing streak with last night's 2-1 victory over the Islanders.
Gilbert Brule and Dustin Penner scored first-period goals and Devan Dubnyk made 30 saves in Edmonton's first win since Dec. 16. Andrew Cogliano assisted on both goals.
"You know we seem to be more on top of the puck," said Edmonton head coach Tom Renney. "We got pucks to the net, we were more in control of ourselves."
The Oilers salvaged the finale of a five-game homestand and kick off a string of five in a row on the road this evening. Edmonton has lost its last three as the guest and may have to play tonight without defenseman Jim Vandermeer after he suffered a leg injury in last night's win.
Dubnyk's solid play last night, as well as Nikolai Khabibulin's struggles versus Vancouver, could earn him another start tonight. Dubnyk is 0-1-1 with a 2.80 GAA versus Vancouver, but Khabibulin is 1-11-1 with a tie in his last 14 when facing the Oilers. He has allowed at least three goals in 10 of those games.
Penner and Cogliano both have three points versus Vancouver this season.
Red Wings at Flames
(Sports Network) - The Detroit Red Wings go for a sweep of their season series with the Calgary Flames this evening when the two teams clash at Scotiabank Saddledome.
The Red Wings have scored 11 goals in taking their first three meetings with the Flames this year, running their overall series winning streak to four games. Detroit has also won three in a row at Calgary.
Detroit veteran defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom had the game-winning goal in overtime when the two teams last met, a 5-4 triumph in Motown on Nov. 21, giving him a pair of goals and three assists in the three meetings this. Henrik Zetterberg scored twice in the victory and has three goals versus the Flames this year.
Both skaters carry eight-game point streaks into tonight's contest after extending those runs in Tuesday's 5-3 victory over Edmonton. Zetterberg (5 goals, 7 assists) scored and Lidstrom (4g, 9a) notched a pair of assists, while forward Todd Bertuzzi scored twice for his first goals since Dec. 4.
"It's not fun when you go 15 games without a goal, but you just keep battling and try to be better in different areas and keep working it," said Bertuzzi, who posted his first multi-goal game since Dec. 26, 2009.
Detroit opened up a five-game road trip by snapping a two-game slide and improving to 5-2-2 over its last nine games. The Red Wings, who lead the Central Division by seven points, have also won four straight on the road and trail Vancouver by a pair of points for the most in the NHL.
Patrick Eaves missed his third straight game with an elbow injury, but could return tonight. He could offset the potential loss of Valtteri Filppula, who is questionable due to a groin injury.
Chris Osgood made 22 saves in Tuesday's victory, but Jimmy Howard will get the start tonight. Tied for the NHL lead with 20 wins, Howard has been in net for all three wins over the Flames this year and is 4-2-0 with a 2.35 goals- against average versus them lifetime.
The Flames hope to avoid a third straight loss tonight on the heels of winning four in a row and were bested by the Canucks, 3-1, on Wednesday. Miikka Kiprusoff made 18 saves and Tim Jackman prevented the shutout by scoring with just 11 seconds remaining.
Veteran forward Niklas Hagman was a healthy scratch for the Flames as 21-year- old Mikael Backlund returned to Calgary's lineup for the first time since Dec. 18 and had an assist. Hagman has eight goals and nine assists in 40 games this year, but no points in his last eight.
Hagman did score in the last meeting with Detroit, while Jarome Iginla had two goals and an assist in that loss to give him three goals and eight points in his last six when facing the Red Wings.
Kiprusoff has been in net for each contest of Calgary's current four-game slide to Detroit, posting a 3.25 GAA.
Calgary will get a bit of a breather after this game as it won't play again until kicking off a four-game road trip on Tuesday.
Senators at Blackhawks
(Sports Network) - The Chicago Blackhawks will try to avoid their fifth loss in six games when they host the struggling Ottawa Senators in tonight's clash at the United Center.
Since winning four in a row from Dec. 17-26, the Blackhawks have dropped four out of five games and the defending Stanley Cup champions were dealt their most-recent loss in the opener of a four-game homestand.
Chicago, which is one point out of a playoff berth in the Western Conference, was dealt a 4-2 loss by the visiting Dallas Stars on Wednesday. Mike Ribeiro posted a pair of power-play goals for the Stars, including the deciding score around the midway point of the third period.
Fernando Pisani and Tomas Kopecky scored for the Blackhawks, while Corey Crawford yielded three goals on 21 shots in defeat.
"I have to come up with big saves and I didn't do that tonight," Crawford said.
Wednesday's setback was the second straight home loss for the Blackhawks, who are 12-11-0 as the host this season. Chicago will also welcome the New York Islanders and Colorado during this residency.
Ottawa has lost three straight and five of its last seven games, but the Senators will at least be well-rested heading into tonight's contest.
The Sens last played on New Year's Day, when they were pummeled on home ice by the rival Toronto Maple Leafs. Tyler Bozak had his first career two-goal game to lead Toronto to the 5-1 rout at Scotiabank Place.
"We have to regroup," Ottawa head coach Cory Clouston said. "We have to make sure we understand what we need to do. It's going to take a whole team effort to get ourselves out of this. We put ourselves in this situation and we can't point fingers."
Sergei Gonchar recorded the only goal for the Senators. The tally halted Gonchar's goal-less streak at 23 games and marked the first score for the highly-paid defenseman since Nov. 11.
Brian Elliott allowed three goals on just seven shots before pulled being late in the first period. Mike Brodeur yielded a pair of goals on 14 shots in relief.
Elliot stopped 29-of-30 shots in a 4-1 home win over the Blackhawks on Jan. 19 of last season. That was the only game played between these clubs last season and it was also Elliot's only career start against Chicago.
Chicago had won three straight in the series prior to last season's loss in Ottawa. The Blackhawks have won the last three times the clubs have met in the Windy City.
The Senators are just 7-8-3 on the road this season and have lost seven of their last 10 games away from Canada's capital city.
Maple Leafs at Thrashers
(Sports Network) - The Atlanta Thrashers will try to win three in a row for the first time since they tied a franchise-record winning streak earlier this season, as they host the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight at Philips Arena.
Atlanta recorded wins recently in Montreal and Florida to complete a three- game road trip. The Thrashers, who went 7-6-3 in December, last won three straight during a six-game winning streak from Nov. 19-30.
After recording an overtime win over the Canadiens on Sunday, the Thrashers visited Florida on Wednesday and claimed a close regulation decision over the Panthers.
Rich Peverley scored a pair of goals and Ondrej Pavelec stopped 33 shots as Atlanta nipped Florida, 3-2, at BankAtlantic Center.
"I thought we did a pretty good job of managing the game, obviously," said Peverley. "We had a pretty good second period keeping the puck in their zone and making the most of our chances."
Niclas Bergfors also tallied and Andrew Ladd posted a pair of assists for the Thrashers, who have won three of four on the heels of a four-game losing streak.
The Thrashers played their second straight game without forward Jim Slater, who suffered a concussion in Atlanta's loss to New Jersey on New Year's Eve. Slater, who was injured when he collided with teammate Dustin Byfuglien, is questionable for tonight's tilt.
Atlanta has lost three of its last five home games and is 11-7-3 as the host this season.
Toronto has won two of its last three games and is coming off Thursday's wild shootout victory over the visiting St. Louis Blues. The Maple Leafs blew a three-goal lead in the third period, but Tyler Bozak netted the game-winning goal in the shootout to lift Toronto the 6-5 victory at Air Canada Centre.
Phil Kessel scored twice for the Maple Leafs, who halted a four-game home skid, but will now head out on a four-game road trip. Toronto has won its last two road tests, but the Leafs still have a poor 6-10-1 record as the guest this season.
Colby Armstrong, Mikhail Grabovski and Kris Versteeg also scored in Thursday's victory, while Jonas Gustavsson ended with 39 saves for Toronto.
The Leafs grabbed a 5-2 advantage on Kessel's second marker at 1:51 of the third period, but St. Louis scored three unanswered goals to pull even with 6:39 remaining in regulation.
"We got really sloppy in the back end," Leafs head coach Ron Wilson said. "We were allowing them to get in the middle of the rink ... At least we found a way to get it to overtime and the shootout and get another point."
The Thrashers recorded a 6-3 victory when they faced the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Dec. 20. Atlanta has taken three of four and four of six overall in the series, but Toronto has won four of its last six at Philips Arena.