VANCOUVER – After starting the season with a pair of games in Alberta last week, the Vancouver Canucks (0-2) launch the home portion of their 2019-20 National Hockey League season when they host the Los Angeles Kings (1-1) tonight at Rogers Arena. As the Canucks celebrate 50-years in the NHL this season, tonight’s contest mirrors the Canucks first ever game in the league which was also against the Kings on this day -- October 9, 1970 -- at Pacific Coliseum.
Over the years, the Canucks are 26-16-6 in their previous 48 home openers (there was no home opener in 2004-05 due to the cancellation of that season).
This year’s version of the Canucks needs to get its offense going. After being shutout 3-0 in Calgary on Saturday, the team has just two goals in its first two games – and only one of those from a forward (former King Tanner Pearson). A big part of the problem in the early going is a power play which has been held at bay in 10 opportunities so far although the team has generated 17 power play shots.
Newcomer JT Miller will skate with Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser tonight. Pettersson is still looking for his point of the season while Miller and Boeser each have an assist. Bo Horvat has also been held off the score sheet through two games. He’ll centre a line with Tanner Pearson and Josh Leivo. Through two games, the Canucks have yet to get a point from any of their centres.
The Canucks are expected to go with the same line-up they used Saturday in Calgary. That means Loui Eriksson will be the odd man out for a second straight game. Jacob Markstrom will make his third straight start in goal.
Rookie defenseman Quinn Hughes made his NHL debut and collected his first point against Los Angeles on March 28th. Hughes has one assist this season and has four points in seven career NHL games.
The Kings return to action after a 4-3 overtime victory in Calgary last night. Drew Doughty silenced the Saddledome crowd with the game winner on the power play 50 seconds into O/T. Doughty had 1+2=3 on the night and has now scored in each of LA’s games this season. Tyler Toffoli, Sean Walker and Ilya Kovalchuk had staked the Kings to a 3-0 lead in Calgary and at that point LA held a 23-4 edge on the shot clock. Jack Campbell made 26 saves in goal in his season debut.
Doughty, Kovalchuk and captain Anze Kopitar share the team lead in scoring with four points apiece.
Former Canuck Ben Hutton has averaged 19:16 of ice in his first two games as a King. Last night in Calgary, only Doughty, Walker, Kopitar and Alec Martinez saw more ice time than Hutton’s 19:42.
Rookie Tobias Bjornfot, the Kings first round pick in June’s draft at Rogers Arena (22nd overall), has suited up in both games for the team so far this season. At 18-years and six months, Bjornfot is the second youngest player in the NHL this season. Only first overall pick Jack Hughes of New Jersey is younger.
After watching from the bench last night, Jonathan Quick is expected to return to the net and get the start in goal. Quick allowed six goals on 31 shots in LA’s season opener in Edmonton on Saturday.
These teams will meet again on October 30th at Staples Center. Vancouver won three of four games against Los Angeles last season going 3-0-1 in their four match-ups.