The Vancouver Canucks, doing all they can to make a late playoff push, will look to extend their winning streak to seven games when they host the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday.
Every victory is huge for the Canucks at this point in the season, but their 6-2 win over the Dallas Stars on Monday was particularly critical.
The Canucks (38-28-10, 86 points) moved within four points of the Los Angeles Kings for third place in the Pacific Division, and they are also five points back of the Stars and the Nashville Predators for the Western Conference wild-card spots.
For the fifth consecutive game, the Canucks scored the first goal, with Conor Garland putting Vancouver ahead of Dallas at 7:28 of the first period.
“Every single game we want to come out and get out to a fast start,” Canucks forward Jason Dickinson said. “We don’t want to let teams dictate and bring the game to us, it’s up to us to bring it to them. We’ve been playing that way for a good chunk of time right now because we’re desperate, and that’s what desperate hockey is.”
Dickinson and Brock Boeser each had a goal and two assists, while Elias Pettersson collected two goals and one assist. The trio played together on a hastily reconfigured top line after Alex Chiasson was a late pregame scratch due to a non-COVID illness.
Instant offense has defined Vancouver’s unbeaten run. The Canucks have outscored opponents 32-11 over the past six games, getting contributions from all over the lineup.
Garland has eight points (three goals, five assists) during a six-game points streak. Pettersson was one of the NHL’s hottest players even prior to the winning streak, and he now has 18 points (11 goals, seven assists) over his past 10 games.
While the Canucks are clicking, the Senators (28-41-7, 63 points) are coming off one of the team’s weakest-ever offensive performances. Ottawa managed only 14 shots in a 4-2 road loss to the Seattle Kraken on Monday, tied for the seventh-lowest, single-game shot total in franchise history.
“We didn’t get to the net,” Senators coach D.J. Smith said. “(The Kraken) are a better defensive team than a lot of people give them credit for, but we didn’t create enough. … Our regular game, we roll our lines, we check, we grind in the (offensive) zone, and we track. We tried to get easy offense (Monday) and we got burnt.”
Ottawa’s skaters had been in good form, averaging 3.5 goals and 30.8 shots in the 12 games prior to the misstep in Seattle.
Since No. 1 goalie Anton Forsberg played against the Kraken, making 25 saves, backup Filip Gustavsson likely will get the nod on Tuesday against the Canucks.
Vancouver goaltender Thatcher Demko stopped 28 of 30 shots against Dallas, so Jaroslav Halak could get the start Tuesday if the Canucks opt to give Demko a breather. However, Demko has started back-to-back games multiple times this season, and Vancouver might prefer to have its top goalie play as often as possible during the playoff race.
In the teams’ first meeting of the season, the Canucks recorded a 6-2 win in Ottawa on Dec. 1, thanks in part to four assists from defenseman Quinn Hughes.
–Field Level Media