The Vancouver Canucks (25-24-7) will try to string consecutive wins together for the first time in more than three weeks when they play host to the San Jose Sharks (33-16-7) tonight at Rogers Arena.
The Canucks beat Buffalo and Detroit on January 18th and 20th to record their last back to back wins. On Saturday, they doused the Calgary Flames 4-3 in a shootout putting them in position to make it two in a row tonight. Bo Horvat, Josh Leivo and Brock Boeser scored the Canucks goals in regulation and Elias Pettersson, who had two assists on the night, netted the only goal in the skills competition. Jacob Markstrom was sensational making a season-high 44 saves plus three more in the shootout. He was at his best in the second period when Calgary held a 20-5 edge in shots, but managed to score just one goal. Markstrom started seven straight games and 13 of the last 14.
With his two points on Saturday, Pettersson reached the 50-point mark in his 45th NHL game. He has a balanced 25 goals and 25 assists on the season.
Boeser scored on one his seven shots on the night and registered a Canuck season-high with 15 shot attempts. Boeser has recorded seven shots on net in three of the last four games. He has scored in three of five games since the All-Star break and has five goals in his past 10 games.
Horvat’s goal just 44 seconds after the opening face-off was the fastest goal to open a game by a Canuck this season.
Leivo has scored in back to back games and now has 7+5=12 in 24 games since being acquired from Toronto on December 3rd.
Rookie Zack MacEwen will make his NHL debut tonight. Recalled from AHL Utica yesterday, where he has 17+25-42 this season, the big winger will be inserted into the Canuck line-up. Travis Green would not reveal whose spot MacEwen will take or with whom he will play. It’s quite possible Markus Granlund, a recent scratch on two occasions and who saw just eight minutes of ice time on Saturday, will be the odd man out.
Daniel and Henrik Sedin made a rare appearance at Rogers Arena this morning. They were on hand as the BC Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2019 was announced. The Twins will headline the class and will be joined by former St. Louis Blues defenseman Barret Jackman, Canuck scout Ron Delorme, longtime NHL official Shane Heyer, Karen Wallace who has been an integral part of the growth of women's hockey in the province along with the 1997-98 South Surrey Eagles who won the RBC Cup. The BC Hockey Hall of Fame induction takes place July 19th in Penticton.
The Sharks are showing their teeth these days having won five in a row, 12 of 15 and 14 of their last 18 since Christmas. They extended their win streak on Saturday with a 5-2 win in Edmonton. Kevin Labanc notched his first NHL hattrick while Evander Kane and Tomas Hertl also scored and Aaron Dell made 21 saves in goal.
Joe Thornton had a pair of assists to tie Gordie Howe for ninth place on the NHL all-time list with 1049 career helpers. Tonight, Jumbo Joe is expected to move into 14th place in all-time games played by suiting up in his 1541st career contest.
The Sharks are second overall in the league in offense (203 goals) and have scored more goals (79) than any team in the league since Christmas. San Jose leads the league in first period goals this season with 70. By comparison, the Canucks have scored 40. The Sharks are 22-3-5 when opening the scoring this season and 25-1-2 when carrying a lead to the third period.
Brent Burns leads the Sharks in scoring and is the highest-point producing blueliner in the NHL with 11+50=61. Joe Pavelski is the Sharks top goal scorer with 29 on the season and is one of four 20+ goal scorers on the team – Hertl (25), Kane (24) and Logan Couture (20) are the others while Timo Meier is sitting with 19 goals.
Erik Karlsson has missed the last seven games with a lower body injury and will not play tonight.
Martin Jones gets the call in goal. While his 89.9% save percentage on the season ranks 35th among all NHL goals who have made 20 starts this season, his career numbers against the Canucks are off the charts. The North Vancouver native is 7-1-1 with a 1.66 GAA and 94.9% save percentage.
Tonight is one of three games remaining between these teams. They will meet again on Saturday in the Bay Area and the Sharks will return to Vancouver on April 2nd for the Canucks home finale. San Jose beat Vancouver 4-0 in their lone meeting of the season so far on November 23rd at the Shark Tank. Aaron Dell made 19 saves for the shutout while the Sharks went 3 for 6 on the power play.
POSSIBLE CANUCKS LINE-UP
POSSIBLE SHARKS LINE-UP