NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, February 4th (All times Eastern)
Vancouver Canucks (27-21-9) at Boston Bruins (35-16-3), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Vancouver Canucks will try to avoid matching their longest winless streak of the season on Tuesday night as they visit the Atlantic Division-leading Boston Bruins.
The Canucks have lost four straight in regulation, one setback shy of their longest stretch without a win this season done twice before. Vancouver was able to earn some points over those earlier droughts, going 0-3-2 from Nov. 9-19 and 0-2-3 from Dec. 30-Jan. 7.
Vancouver is holding on to the eighth spot in the Western Conference by just a single point over the Phoenix Coyotes and were unable to get a spark from the return of both coach John Tortorella and captain Henrik Sedin on Monday.
Tortorella returned to the bench after serving a 15-day suspension for his actions in a game versus the Calgary Flames on Jan. 18, missing six games. Sedin was absent for each one due to a rib injury that halted his consecutive games played streak at 679 and was held off the scoresheet in last night's 2-0 setback to the Detroit Red Wings.
Eddie Lack made 28 saves in the second contest of a five-game road trip, but Detroit got eight saves from Jonas Gustavsson in the first period before he exited due to dizziness. Jimmy Howard stopped all 16 Vancouver shots he faced the rest of the way.
"We can't buy a win right now," Lack said. "I'm trying to do my job and keep us in every game. It's tough."
After Detroit scored the game's first goal early in the second period, David Booth was hooked on a breakaway and awarded a penalty shot. However, Howard turned his chance aside to leave the Canucks and Tortorella frustrated.
"We need to change the complexion of our hockey club, either with our play or with different people, because we looked like a slow hockey team tonight," noted Tortorella. "We're going to keep on banging away to try and get better, but it's very frustrating to see the same looks. It worries me. I'll leave it at that."
One change that could happen tonight is the insertion of defenseman Raphael Diaz into the lineup. He was acquired in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens on Monday for forward Dale Weise.
Diaz could make his debut with the Canucks tonight after notching 11 assists and a minus-4 rating in 43 games with the Habs this season. He'll help fill a void on the back end left by injuries to Kevin Bieksa (foot) and Christopher Tanev (thumb).
The Bruins will host the Canucks to close a four-game homestand and are 6-1-1 in their last eight games. That stretch includes a disappointing and lackluster 4-1 loss to Montreal on Thursday, but Boston rebounded to secure a 4-0 triumph over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.
Chad Johnson made 22 saves in his first shutout of the season and second of his career, while Boston scored three times in the third period to break open a close game. Dougie Hamilton started the burst 6:43 into the frame before Carl Soderberg and Torey Krug followed with goals.
David Krejci also lit the lamp and Zdeno Chara added a pair of assists for the Bruins, who posted 19 of their 41 shots in the third period.
"Well, I think so -- a much better game tonight in all aspects of it," said Bruins head coach Claude Julien comparing the game to Thursday's loss to Montreal. "Thought that goal by Dougie kind of made everybody relax a little bit more and our game seemed to get better after that too."
Boston leads the Tampa Bay Lightning by four points for the top spot in the division and will have Chara in the lineup tonight for the last time before the Olympic break.
The hulking defenseman will not play on Thursday in St. Louis or Saturday versus Ottawa as he had earlier been selected to carry Slovakia's flag during the Opening Ceremonies on Friday for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
The Bruins have lost three of their last four versus the Canucks, including a 6-2 setback on Dec. 14 that marked the first time the two clubs met in Vancouver since Boston won Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals.
Tuukka Rask got the start for the Bruins, but was pulled early in the second period after allowing four goals on 23 shots. He fell to 0-1-1 with a 3.38 goals against average in his career versus the Canucks.
Sedin had a goal and an assist in the victory, while Roberto Luongo posted 39 saves to improve to 12-10-3 in his career versus Boston with a 2.38 GAA and four shutouts.
02/04 10:44:02 ET