On the day General Manager Jim Benning was signed to a multi-year contract extention, the Vancouver Canucks (22-28-6) will host the Florida Panthers (24-23-6) at Rogers Arena tonight. The Canucks fell 3-1 in Sunrise, Florida last Tuesday. Alex Barkov scored twice while logging 24:36 and Harri Sateri made 26 saves for the victory. The last time Florida was in Vancouver Henrik Sedin recorded his 1,000th career point on January 20, 2017.
The Canucks return to action for the first time since Sunday’s 6-0 romp down in Dallas. Jacob Markstrom made 30 saves for his second shutout of the season and the second of his National Hockey League career. Reid Boucher scored his first two goals of the season while Jake Virtanen, Thomas Vanek, Bo Horvat and Erik Gudbranson added singles. The Canucks matched their season-highs for goals (6) and shots on goal (41) in a game.
Coming off one of their most-impressive outings of the season, the Canucks will come right back with the same line-up they used in the Lone Star State. Jacob Markstrom makes a third straight start in goal. Brock Boeser returned to the line-up Sunday after missing Friday’s game in Carolina with a sore hand. After an assist against the Stars, Boeser has 2+2=4 in the past four games he’s played.
Defenseman Philip Holm was recalled from Utica yesterday. The 26-year-old Swede has 11+18=29 in 42 games in the American Hockey League this season. He will have to wait to make his NHL debut.
The Canucks have won two of their last three at Rogers Arena and three of their last five on home ice.
Sam Gagner (ankle) and Brendan Gaunce (foot) were both injured against the Panthers in Florida last week. Chris Tanev (leg) is the latest to be added to the team’s injured reserve list.
The Panthers arrive in Vancouver on a roll. They beat the Oilers 7-5 in Edmonton on Monday and have won five of their last six. Vincent Trocheck had a hat trick on 12 shot attempts (six on goal) giving him 21 goals on the season – becoming the first Panther to reach the 20-goal mark this season. Evgeni Dadonov added a pair of goals.
Jonathan Huberdeau leads the Panthers with 35 assists and 53 points. Alex Barkov leads the league in average ice time among forwards (22:17) and leads the league with five short-handed goals, too. No one else in the league has more than three this season. Trocheck is third in average ice among all NHL forwards at 21:32.
Aaron Ekblad has scored in back to back games and with 12 goals on the season trails only PK Subban (15) in goals by NHL defensemen. He has reached double-digits in all four of his seasons in the league. He scored 15 in his second season and should eclipse that this year. Ekblad has 3+3=6 on a four-game point streak.
James Reimer will make his second straight start in goal while Roberto Luongo returns to uniform for the first time since December 4th and will serve as his back-up tonight. Luongo has missed 26 games with a groin injury.
This is the start of a quick home-road back to back set for the Canucks who travel to San Jose after the game to face the Sharks tomorrow night in the Bay Area.
Probable Canucks lines for today’s game: