The Vancouver Canucks (25-36-9) are out to snap a scoreless streak and a losing skid when they finish a three-game road trip tonight against the Anaheim Ducks (34-24-12) at Honda Center. Depending on the outcome of this game, the Canucks could be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention tonight. An Anaheim win in regulation would move the Ducks to 82 points and mean the most the Canucks could gain is 81. The Ducks would be the fourth Pacific Division team and ninth Western Conference club to reach 82 points therefore squeezing the Canucks out of the playoff chase.
The Canucks announced this morning that defenseman Erik Gudbranson has been shut down for the season and will require shoulder surgery. The injury initially happened in Pittsburgh on November 22nd and Gubranson missed 12 games. He also missed five games in January with back spasms. On the season, Gudrbanson who recently signed a three-year/$12M extension played 52 games scoring three goals and adding two assists with 35 penalty minutes.
Alex Biega will draw into the line-up in Gudbranson’s spot tonight. The Canucks will go with the same 12 forwards they used in Monday’s 3-0 loss in Los Angeles. And Jacob Markstrom returns to the net after backing-up Anders Nilsson against the Kings. Markstrom made 23 saves in Sunday’s 1-0 loss in Arizona.
The Canucks have gone two plus games and 152:09 of playing time without scoring after back to back shutout losses in Arizona and Los Angeles. The franchise record of 234:52 was set two years ago (March 16-24, 2016) when the Canucks were blanked in three straight and four of five games.
The Canucks last goal came midway through the second period of last Friday’s game at home against Minnesota when Jussi Jokinen banged home a rebound. Since then, opponents have outscored the Canucks 7-0. The drought has played a key role in four straight losses. Overall, the team is 1-5-2 in its past eight and 3-8-3 in its last 14.
On Monday in LA, the Canucks fired 35 shots on Jonathan Quick but were unable to find the back of the net in a 3-0 loss. That marked the seventh time this season the Canucks have been shutout.
Daniel Sedin and Bo Horvat – the team’s goal-scoring leaders in the absence of the injured Brock Boeser – have both gone five games without scoring. Henrik Sedin has gone five games without a point. Those three have combined for 127 points on the season, but have just three points between them over the past five outings. As a team, the Canucks have scored 10 goals over their past six games.
Sam Gagner has gone 21 games – and 49 shots – since his last goal on January 6th in Toronto.
The Ducks are reeling as they fight for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. They have dropped three straight in regulation after a 4-2 home ice loss to St. Louis on Monday. That followed setbacks in Nashville and Dallas. Anaheim heads into action tonight fourth in the Pacific Division and ninth in the Western Conference with 80 points.
Rickard Rakell leads the Ducks with 30 goals and 59 points. Despite missing 25 games, Ryan Getzlaf leads Anaheim with 41 assists and sits second in team scoring with 51 points and has 1+8=9 on a five-game point streak. Corey Perry is third in team scoring with 15+27=42.
Former Canuck Ryan Kesler has 6+3=9 in 32 games after missing the first half of the schedule following off-season hip surgery. He has struggled to contribute lately with just 0+1=1 in his past 13 games. Kesler rarely practices these days trying instead to save himself for game action.
John Gibson is expected to start in goal tonight. Chris Kelly has played six games for the Ducks since joining the team after representing Canada at the Pyeongchang Olympics last month.
Anaheim has been to overtime on 18 occasions this season. They are 2-5 in games settled in O/T and 4-7 in shootouts. The 12 losses beyond regulation is tied for first in the NHL And with 30 ROW, the Ducks are in danger should a tie-breaker be required for a playoff position.
Anaheim has beaten the Canucks in both meetings so far this season outscoring Vancouver 9-1 in the process. The Ducks were 4-1 winners on home ice on November 9th and blanked the Canucks 5-0 at Rogers Arena on January 2nd. Since Sven Baertschi opened the scoring in Anaheim in November, the Ducks have scored the last nine goals in the season series. These teams will meet one more time this season on March 27th in Vancouver.
Canucks lines for tonight’s game: