The Vancouver Canucks currently are finding both goals and wins difficult to come by. The club hopes to break out of its slump on Friday when it welcomes the Columbus Blue Jackets for a battle at Rogers Arena.
The Canucks have lost five straight games and have scored a total of six goals during the 0-3-2 stretch. The only time Vancouver managed to score more than one goal during the slide was in its last game, a 3-2 shootout loss on Tuesday night against the Florida Panthers.
The loss to the visiting Panthers dropped Vancouver to 1-0-2 so far on a six- game homestand. The Canucks are only 4-4-2 on home ice this season, but tonight's opponent has had little success playing British Columbia over the years. Columbus has dropped six straight in Vancouver and hasn't won at Rogers Arena since a 5-3 decision on Oct. 5, 2009.
The Canucks did lose earlier this season in Columbus, as R.J. Umberger scored the game-winner in the third period to lift the Blue Jackets to a 3-1 win. Curtis McElhinney stopped 37 shots for Columbus to earn the win, which was just the third victory for the Jackets in the past 15 encounters between the clubs.
Vancouver fell behind 1-0 to the Panthers less than four minutes into the game, but the Canucks eventually held a 2-1 lead early in the third period. However, Shawn Matthias tied the game at 2-2 for Florida with 11:26 to go in regulation and Jonathan Huberdeau scored the lone goal in the shootout to give the Panthers the win. Florida goaltender Tim Thomas stopped all three Vancouver attempts in the tiebreaker.
Roberto Luongo put together a solid showing for Vancouver with 34 saves, but it was not enough to end Vancouver's losing streak, which is the club's longest since an 0-5-3 skid from Jan. 9-31, 2009.
"I just don't know what we're thinking as far as how we start a game," Canucks head coach John Tortorella said. "I can't explain it."
Including tonight's contest, Vancouver has three games left on its homestand. The club will host Chicago tomorrow night before wrapping the residency Monday against Los Angeles.
Columbus, meanwhile, is playing the fourth part of a five-game road trip on Friday and is 2-1-0 on the swing so far.
The Blue Jackets won the opener of the trip in Ottawa by a 4-1 score before getting absolutely destroyed in a 7-0 defeat Tuesday night in Edmonton. However, Columbus was able to right itself after the lopsided loss to the Oilers, picking up a 2-1 overtime win the following night in Calgary.
Nikita Nikitin scored the game-winner 2:25 into overtime to lift the Blue Jackets to the rebound victory on Wednesday. Flames goalie Reto Berra was able to stop a shot from point-blank range, but David Savard found Nikitin in front of the net and Berra was unable to recover in time as the puck crossed the goal line for the win.
Nick Foligno also scored and Nikitin had an assist for the Blue Jackets. Sergei Bobrovsky turned aside 23 shots in the win.
"I thought we battled," Columbus head coach Todd Richards said. "We got the win. We got two points, which is important."
Bobrovsky expects to get the start tonight and is 1-0-2 with a 1.05 goals against average in four career outings against the Canucks. Luongo is 10-5-5 with a 2.11 GAA in 20 lifetime starts versus Columbus.