NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Friday, March 14th
(All times Eastern)
Vancouver Canucks (30-28-10) at Washington Capitals (30-27-10), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Just when the sun brightens a bit for the Vancouver
Canucks, it is followed up with a torrential downpour.
The Canucks will be without their leading goal scorer for the rest of their
road trip, one that resumes on Friday night against the Washington Capitals.
Wednesday should have been a night that left the Canucks feeling good about
themselves. They snapped a seven-game road losing streak with a 3-2 shootout
win over the Winnipeg Jets in the opener of a four-game swing and saw forward
Alexandre Burrows net his first two goals of the season.
Of course, the good came with the bad as Ryan Kesler left in the game
following a knee-on-knee collision and went back to Vancouver for further
tests. It is not known how long he will be out, but head coach John Tortorella
did admit that Kesler will not play for the rest of this trip, one that
includes games versus the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning.
Kesler was mentioned in a number of trade rumors before last week's deadline,
but the Canucks did not pull the trigger on a deal to move the forward, who
has 22 goals on the season.
Kesler's 40 points are tied with Daniel Sedin, currently out with a strained
left hamstring, and one back of Henrik Sedin for the team lead.
Minus the forward, Eddie Lack made 32 saves through overtime before stopping
all three skaters he faced in the shootout. Vancouver then earned the extra
point on Chris Higgins' third-round tally.
"We lose (Kesler) before the third and we get down, so yeah, I thought we
played hard right on through. And that's two out of the last three games that
we have played well in the third period, so good for them," Tortorella said.
"They've hung in there, they've hung together. Losing a big guy like (Kesler),
I thought they stuck together as a group. It was really nice to see."
So was the production from Burrows, who scored his first goals since April 15
of last year. That gave him a gap of 40 games between goals in the regular
"It was one of those nights it seemed the puck was finding me around the net,"
said Burrows, who hadn't scored a goal in his first 35 games of the season. "I
had a lot of chances. Honestly, I think I had four real good looks."
Vancouver picked up its first road win since Jan. 21 in Edmonton and sits four
points back of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Lack, meanwhile, rebounded after giving up six third-period goals in a 7-4
setback to the visiting New York Islanders on Monday and is likely to face
Washington tonight for the first time.
The Capitals are looking to put their own struggles behind them as they were
just swept in a home-and-home set by the Pittsburgh Penguins. That gave the
club five losses in its past six games and Washington sits three points out of
the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
After losing a 3-2 decision at home on Monday, the Capitals were blanked 2-0
in Pittsburgh the following night. Jaroslav Halak made 32 saves, but the
Penguins' Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all 32 shots he faced.
"We were on our heels the whole first period, no question," said Capitals
coach Adam Oates. "We turned it over too many times -- probably a little
hangover from (Monday) night."
Evgeny Kuznetsov failed to record a point in the two games, the first of his
NHL career after signing an entry-level deal on Saturday. He was the 26th
overall pick of the 2010 draft and the Russian-born forward had been playing
in the Kontinental Hockey League.
It has also been a rough few games for Caps forward Alex Ovechkin, who leads
the NHL with 44 goals but does not have a point in his past four games. He is
a minus-4 over that span.
Halak, acquired from the Buffalo Sabres before the trade deadline, started
both games versus the Penguins and is 4-3-1 lifetime with a 2.12 goals against
average versus the Canucks. Fellow Washington netminder Braden Holtby has
never faced them.
The Capitals have lost four straight and nine of their last 10 meetings with
the Canucks, including a 3-2 setback in Vancouver on Oct. 26.
The Canucks have won four of their last five trips to Washington and are
eligible to have forward Zack Kassian back in the lineup tonight. He finished
serving a three-game suspension for a hit-from-behind versus Dallas last
03/14 10:55:03 ET