NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, February 3rd (All times Eastern)
Vancouver Canucks (27-20-9) at Detroit Red Wings (24-19-12), 7:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - John Tortorella will try to lead the struggling Vancouver Canucks to a win as the fiery head coach returns to the bench for Monday's road test against the Detroit Red Wings.
Tortorella has completed a 15-day suspension for his antics during a 3-2 shootout win against the Calgary Flames on Jan. 18 and returns to a club that has lost 12 times in its last 16 trips to the ice.
Angered by Calgary head coach Bob Hartley's decision to start that game with his fourth line, a move that helped instigate a game-opening line brawl, Tortorella tried to get at Hartley in the Calgary locker room between the first and second periods but he was restrained from doing so by Flames players and members of the Vancouver staff.
While Tortorella wasn't allowed to have any contact with his team during the 15-day ban, Hartley was fined $25,000 for his role in the brawl.
The Canucks, who are 4-9-3 over their last 16 games, went 2-4-0 while Tortorella was serving his suspension and the club has lost its last three tilts in regulation.
Assistant coach Mike Sullivan handled the bench duties during Tortorella's absence and he relinquishes the reins with Vancouver still hanging onto the eighth and final playoff seed in the West. The Canucks are just one point ahead of Phoenix for that distinction.
Like Tortorella, Canucks captain Henrik Sedin has missed the last six games, although his layoff has been due to a rib injury and not a suspension. Sedin, who had played in 679 straight games before bruised ribs led to the end of the iron man streak, participated in a full practice on Sunday but he expects to sit out another tilt today.
Meanwhile, Daniel Sedin, Henrik's twin brother and linemate, has gone 15 straight games without a goal. The winger has five assists during the goal- scoring drought.
The Canucks were handed a 4-3 loss Friday in Winnipeg, as Devin Setoguchi scored the game-winner for the Jets with 2:56 to play in the third period.
Ryan Kesler had a goal and two assists for the Canucks, while Eddie Lack allowed all four goals on 34 shots.
"Well, it was frustrating because we fought our way back into the game," said Sullivan. "I give our guys credit for fighting back, but we've got to find a way to win that game."
Vancouver ended January with a 4-9-2 record and the club lost six of seven on the road during the month. The Canucks, who will make the second stop on five- game swing tonight, are 13-11-4 as the road team this season.
The Red Wings have lost three of their last four games (1-1-2) and recently split a home-and-home series with Washington. Detroit won the home portion of the two-game series Friday night at Joe Louis Arena, claiming a 4-3 shootout victory, but the Wings fell 6-5 in overtime in Sunday's wild battle at Verizon Center.
Alex Ovechkin scored a power-play goal 2:37 into overtime to lift the Capitals to Sunday's win. Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith was called for tripping at the 1:26 mark of the extra session. The Capitals moved the puck around and John Carlson fed Ovechkin for a one-timer from the left circle.
Detroit's Gustav Nyquist posted his first career hat trick and picked up an assist on Justin Abdelkader's goal that tied the game at 5-5 with 13:35 remaining in the third period. Henrik Zetterberg recorded three assists for the Red Wings, while Jimmy Howard surrendered all six goals on 28 shots in the loss.
"Offensively we played really well," Zetterberg said. "Some mistakes cost us a few goals, and obviously they're good when they get the power play."
The Red Wings had been shut out in their previous three road games, so Sunday's scoring outburst was a welcome sight. However, the club is tied with Philadelphia for the eighth and final playoff seed in the East and would've liked to have earned the extra point. The Red Wings and Flyers, who visit San Jose tonight, are only a point ahead of Carolina and Washington and two points in front of Ottawa and New Jersey.
"We showed some good resilience tonight," Howard said. "We found a way to come back, scraping and clawing and getting a point. At the same time, we could've easily been walking out of here with two points. I've got to find a way to come up with a couple more saves for the guys."
The Red Wings have won three of their last four on home ice but they are still only 10-11-8 at the Joe this season.
Detroit recorded a 2-1 regulation win in Vancouver on Oct. 30 and it has won three of the past four meetings in this series. The Red Wings also have claimed two of the last three encounters in Motown.
02/03 10:45:40 ET