The Vancouver Canucks will look to wrap up their four-game eastern road swing, with the second and final contest against the Toronto Maple Leafs this season.
Vancouver edged out the best faceoff winning team 3-2 on the back of a 51 save performance by Thatcher Demko – a personal career-high.
The Canucks got off to an early start, notching two goals in the first frame – the first coming two minutes into play.
They soon found themselves in trouble after surrendering consecutive powerplay goals, before pocketing a fortunate third and final goal.
Demko held down the fort in the third period, much like he had done the entire game, to steal two points much to the delight of the home crowd.
Although today’s destination is different, the storyline remains the same: win.
Vancouver has collected four out of a possible six points so far on their road trip, and are running out of time to book a playoff appearance come April. They have been unable to draw closer than four points for a while, despite being 7-3-0 in their last ten.
At this point, winning games still isn’t going to cut it. The Canucks need the Predators and Oilers to lose as well tonight to close the gap. If everything works to plan, Vancouver will find themselves two points back in the Western Conference wild card race.
Vancouver has also found themselves winless at Scotiabank Arena, then referred to as the Air Canada Centre, since 2011, and there is no better time to beat an eleven-year record than the present.
Hometowner Bruce Boudreau will hope to turn the tides once more for his underdog squad. A win would also surely eliminate the sour feeling remaining in the mouths of fans after a blowout 7-2 loss against a non-playoff team.
Boudreau still adamantly denies the circulating chopping block rumours with just over two weeks remaining to the trade deadline.
Vancouver will go with the same setup that earned them a victory 48 hours ago in New York.
This will be the first time the Canucks will get a look at goaltender Jack Campbell in the pipes for the Leafs, who has been less than impressive as of late. Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe has played backup Petr Mrazek in their last two outings, including their latest 5-1 loss against the Buffalo Sabers.
Canucks will also get a depleted Toronto back half with defenseman Jake Muzzin still out of the lineup, and Rasmus Sandin out with an illness.
Keys to the Game
Plain and simple, stay out of the box. The Maple Leafs have the best powerplay in the league, operating at 29% in comparison to the Canucks 21%, who have shown no lack of discipline. Giving Toronto any opportunity with the extra man will spell trouble.
The Canucks also need to limit giveaways.
Vancouver recorded 17 giveaways last meeting, which resulted in numerous odd-man rushes and breakaways. If the team are going to leave Demko to his own devices, they can at least do their part in winning 50/50 neutral zone battles.
The early bird gets the worm: the Canucks can’t stay tentative against this high-flying Toronto team. Goaltending has dug the Leafs in recently, and if Vancouver can chase Campbell out of the net, the game will be in their hands.
Vancouver will have to be pesky in front of the net and jump on rebounds. Campbell is especially shaky on glove-side shots, if they can’t beat him with seeing eye shots, moving him laterally is how they are going to find the back of the net.
Players to Watch
Vasily Podkolzin has a goal in his last two games, including the game-winner against the Islanders. His ice time has also been steadily increasing over the last few games: logging up to 15 minutes a night in three of his last four.
The line of Michael Bunting, Auston Matthews, and Mitch Marner has been on an absolute tear as of late, registering a combined fifteen points in a 10-7 win against the Detroit Red Wings. Limiting their names on the scoring sheet will be the best for the Canucks, especially Matthews, who started the Leafs comeback last time and went pointless against Buffalo.
It’s do or die for the Canucks, who face one of their hardest tests remaining in the season. With April looming closer each day, every game has become a must-win.
Puck drop is set for 4:00 PM. You can catch the game on Sportsnet Pacific or listen to it on Sportsnet 650.