SUNRISE, FL -- The Vancouver Canucks (2-2) look for back-to-back victories for the first time this season when they visit the Florida Panthers (0-1-1) tonight at BB&T Center in south Florida.
The Canucks scored four unanswered goals on Tuesday to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-1. Elias Pettersson scored his team-leading fourth goal of the season to spark the comeback, while Brock Boeser netted his first which turned out to be the game-winner. Jake Virtanen and Markus Granlund added empty-netters to ensure the outcome. Anders Nilsson was terrific, stopping 33 of the 34 shots he faced on the night including 16 in the first period.
In both Canucks victories this season, the team has scored four third-period goals. For a team that struggled offensively in the preseason, the Canucks have scored three or more goals in each of their four outings so far. Pettersson has three assists to go along with his four goals and has a point in each of his first four NHL games.
With no morning skate on Saturday, the Canucks' lineup for tonight remains a mystery. The team needs to make a roster move if Antoine Roussel is to make his Canucks debut. The winger has been sidelined since training camp with a concussion, however he skated on a line with Bo Horvat and Boeser in practice Friday, giving the impression he may be ready to play. To make room for Roussel on the 23-man roster, the Canucks will have to place someone on waivers.
While Travis Green termed Nilsson’s appearance in Tampa on Thursday a "scheduled" start, his performance in that contest may lead to an unscheduled start tonight. Nilsson spent Friday’s practice in the net the Canucks will defend twice tonight.
Whether it’s Nilsson or former Panther Jacob Markstrom, Canucks goalies are getting plenty of help from Alex Edler these days. Edler is in a league of his own when it comes to blocked shots in the early going this season. The veteran defenceman has blocked a league-high 24 shots through four games. That’s nine more than LA’s Jake Muzzin, who is second on that list.
Tonight, Horvat plays his 300th NHL game.
Florida is still looking for its first win of the season. The Panthers fell 5-4 to the Columbus Blue Jackets on home ice on Thursday after dropping a 2-1 shootout decision in Tampa last Saturday night. Evgenii Dadonov leads the club with three points (a goal and two assists) while captain Aleksander Barkov has a goal and an assist. Delta, BC native Troy Brouwer scored his first goal as a Panther on Thursday night.
Prior to tonight’s game, injured goalie Roberto Luongo will be saluted by the Panthers for playing in his 1,000th NHL regular season game late last season. The former Canuck reached the milestone on April 5th and became just the third goaltender in league history to appear in 1,000 games (following Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur). He is the active leader in victories (473) and is fourth all-time in that category. He is week-to-week with a knee injury incurred on opening night.
With Luongo on the shelf, James Reimer will make his third straight start in goal.
Defenceman Keith Yandle is the NHL’s current ironman having appeared in 717 consecutive games. That is the seventh-longest streak in NHL history. He needs 21 more games to pass former Panther Jay Bouwmeester for sixth place on the list.
The Panthers swept the two-game season series with the Canucks in 2017-18. That included a 3-1 win on home ice last February. The teams will meet again in Vancouver on January 13th.
Canucks possible lines: