The Vancouver Canucks (28-32-9) will get some help on the blueline when they host the New York Rangers (28-28-13) tonight at Rogers Arena. But it won’t be in the form of recently-signed Quinn Hughes, the team’s first pick in last year’s National Hockey League draft. Hughes arrived in town yesterday and met the media this morning but a nagging ankle injury will not allow him to play just yet. Veteran Chris Tanev returns to the line-up after missing 11 games with an ankle injury suffered on February 13th in Anaheim. Guillaume Brisebois also draws in for the first time in a month. Derrick Pouliot and Luke Schenn will come out of the line-up.
The Canucks have been idle since a 6-2 loss to Vegas on Saturday. Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat had the Vancouver goals. Boeser has 7+11=18 in his past 21 games and during that span has been in on 38% of the 47 goals the Canucks have scored. Horvat, meanwhile, has scored his last nine goals on home ice. Antoine Roussel picked up an assist on Horvat’s goal and established a career-high with 30 points (9+21) on the season. Alex Biega set up both Canuck goals and now has 1+6=7 in the past seven games.
Elias Pettersson has gone 11 games without a goal, but he did notch an assist on Boeser’s goal on Saturday giving him 58 points on the season. The young Swede needs just two more points to tie the Canucks rookie scoring record shared by Pavel Bure and Ivan Hlinka. Pettersson is one back of Trevor Linden who had 59 points in his first season in the NHL.
For the first time this season, Travis Green made a mid-game goaltending switch. Jacob Markstrom was replaced by Thatcher Demko with the Golden Knights leading 5-1 late in the first period. Demko stopped 16 of the 17 shots he faced over the final 45 minutes of action. The team will go back to Markstrom tonight.
The Canucks have not had a lead in any of their last six games. The only time in the past eight games they have held a lead was in a 4-0 win over Anaheim two weeks ago. The Canucks have spotted their opponent the game’s first goal in nine of their last 11 outings.
Tonight marks Jake Virtanen’s 200th NHL game. The Abbotsford native got off to a quick start this season with a career-high 11 goals before Christmas. But he has just one goal in his past 21 games when he opened the scoring in Colorado on February 2nd.
New York arrives in town on the heels of a 3-2 overtime loss in Edmonton on Monday night. Brendan Lemieux scored once and set up Brett Howden for the Rangers other goal while Alexandar Georgiev stopped 30 of the 33 shots he faced. Lemieux had a Gordie Howe hattrick after getting into a second period scrap with Jujhar Khaira on Monday. He now has 2+3=5 in seven games since being acquired from Winnipeg at the trade deadline.
After a night off Monday, Henrik Lundqvist returns to the Ranger net tonight. The 37-year-old’s next victory will be the 450th of his career. He is five wins shy of matching Curtis Joseph for fifth on the league’s all-time wins list (454).
The Rangers are among the league leaders in games requiring overtime (20) and no team in the NHL has been to the shootout more this season (10). After Monday’s loss, the Blueshirts are now 1-9 in games decided in OT and 6-4 in the skills competition. They have been forced to settle for a single point in five of their last eight games. Overall, they are 1-2-5 in those eight outings.
Although he was held off the scoresheet in Edmonton, Mika Zibanejad leads the Rangers in goals (27), power play goals (9) and points (65). However, he has 0+2=2 in his past six games and has just one goal in his last 11.
The Rangers beat the Canucks 2-1 at Madison Square Garden when these teams met on November 12th. Filip Chytil and Brett Howden scored the New York goals while Henrik Lundqvist made 25 saves. Nikolay Goldobin had the lone Vancouver goal.
The Rangers have won their last two visits to Vancouver and dating back to 2011 have taken five of their last six. Last season, they were 6-5 winners in overtime on a goal by defenseman John Gilmour – it was the second goal of his career and the last goal he has scored in the NHL. He has spent all of this season in the American Hockey League. The overtime winner that night was set up by current Canuck winger Ryan Spooner.
POSSIBLE CANUCKS LINE-UP
POSSIBLE RANGERS LINE-UP