Preview: Tampa Bay at Vancouver
When: 10:00 PM ET, Saturday, January 9, 2016
Where: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia
The Vancouver Canucks continue to battle through injuries while staying in the middle of the hunt in the Pacific Division race. The Canucks have earned points in six of their last eight games (5-2-1) as they prepare to host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday with another key player expected to sit out.
Third-leading scorer Jannik Hansen suffered an upper-body injury in the 3-2 win over Carolina on Wednesday and missed Friday’s practice while top-pair defenseman Dan Hamhuis (jaw) and key center Brandon Sutter (hernia) remain out indefinitely. The Lightning arrive after rallying for three goals in the third period that each went in off opposing players to beat Edmonton 3-2 on Friday. “The thing that stuck out to me tonight was our compete,” Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos told reporters. “I certainly felt our group responded to the challenge.” The Lightning won each of their last three visits to Vancouver but dropped to 2-1 decision to Canucks at home on Dec. 22.
TV: 10 p.m. ET, Sun Sports (Tampa Bay), CBC, Sportsnet (Vancouver)
ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (20-17-4): Defenseman Victor Hedman snapped out of a six-game point drought with a goal and two assists Friday to go along with a plus-3 rating to lead the comeback. Stamkos has tallied in back-to-back contests to push his team-high total to 18 and owns eight goals and 14 points in eight career contests against the Canucks. While Ben Bishop notched his 16th win Friday with 24 saves, backup Andrei Vasilevskiy could get the start Saturday after winning his last outing against Minnesota on Jan. 2.
ABOUT THE CANUCKS (16-16-9): Alex Burrows reportedly skated with the team’s leading scorers – Daniel Sedin (17 goals, 38 points) and twin brother Henrik (25 assists, 34 points) – at practice Friday in place of Hansen (22 points). Bo Horvat has stepped up with three goals in his last two games after producing just two in the first 39 contests this season but owns a club-worst minus-19 rating. Jacob Markstrom has gone 4-2-0 in place of Ryan Miller (groin), who could be back in the lineup soon after participating in Friday’s practice.
1. The Canucks acquired speedy RW Emerson Etem from the New York Rangers on Friday for RW Nicklas Jensen in a trade of former first-round picks.
2. Tampa Bay RW Nikita Kucherov recorded a goal Friday and has posted at least one point (13 overall) in nine of his last 10 games.
3. The victory over Carolina was the first of nine straight games versus Eastern Conference teams for the Canucks, who are 8-8-4 against them this season.
PREDICTION: Lightning 4, Canucks 3