NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, January 21st (All times Eastern)
Vancouver Canucks (25-16-9) at Edmonton Oilers (15-30-6), 9:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Amidst the drama of their last trip to the ice, the Vancouver Canucks were able to halt an ugly three-game losing streak.
The fallout from that win begins on Tuesday night, when the Canucks face the Edmonton Oilers without their leading scorer in Henrik Sedin and head coach John Tortorella.
Vancouver hosted the Calgary Flames on Saturday having sandwiched a pair of 1-0 losses around a 9-1 drubbing at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks. Flames coach Bob Hartley opted to start his fourth line and Tortorella countered with his grinders.
The result was a line brawl just two seconds into the game, touched off when Calgary's Kevin Westgarth engaged unwilling Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa off the face off. All 10 players were given fighting majors and eight of those skaters were thrown out of the game.
There were 150 penalty minutes assessed to both sides by the time the contest was 4 1/2 minutes old and Tortorella was seen attempting to get into the Flames locker room during the first intermission.
Eventually, the Canucks got goals from Ryan Kesler and Yannick Weber in regulation before Chris Higgins netted the winner in the fifth round of a shootout to give Vancouver a 3-2 win.
Roberto Luongo made 31 saves in his first game back after missing six in a row with an ankle injury as the Canucks won for just the second time in their last 10 games (2-5-3).
"I see the starting lineup and I know the other guy across the bench. It's easy for people to say put the Sedins out there and it's deflated," Tortorella said. "I can't put our players at risk that way. With the lineup he had, I am not going to put those type of players at risk, and that's what ensues.
"I'm not proud of it. I have apologized to every one of the players involved in it. I don't feel great about it at all."
Tortorella refused to go into detail during his postgame press conference about his actions between the first and second period, but the league took action on Monday following an in-person hearing for Tortorella, suspending the coach for 15 days while also fining Hartley $25,000.
In a statement released by the league, NHL senior executive vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell called Tortorella's actions "both dangerous and an embarrassment to the league" and the ban is retroactive to Jan. 19. It is set to be completed on Feb. 2, causing the coach to miss the next six games.
"We respect the decision made by the National Hockey League today to suspend John Tortorella for 15 days from Sunday, with no contact with the team for six games," said Canucks general manager Mike Gillis in a statement. "We would also like to acknowledge our organization's full support for John and we look forward to having him back behind the bench soon."
Assistant coach Mike Sullivan will handle the bulk of the work behind the bench in Tortorella's absence with help from fellow assistant Glen Gulutzan. Their first task will be finding a way to replace Sedin.
The center was a game-time decision on Saturday, but did not finish up the game due to a rib injury and his streak of 679 consecutive games played will come to an end tonight. That run is the sixth-longest in NHL history as the 33-year-old will miss his first game since March 19, 2004.
Sedin leads the Canucks with 31 assists and 40 points.
Luongo is likely to draw the start and is 25-11-3 with a tie and 2.31 goals against average in his career versus the Oilers.
Edmonton had a much more quiet though less successful Saturday, falling 3-2 in overtime to the hosting Winnipeg Jets for its fourth straight loss.
Ilya Bryzgalov made 36 saves, but saw the game-winner tipped past him 1:10 into the bonus frame.
Jordan Eberle scored a power-play goal in the second period and David Perron notched a game-tying goal with two minutes left in regulation after the Jets scored twice in the third frame to tie the contest.
"They played well. They didn't give you much as far as offensively and space. I think in the third they started to shift the game towards them. They were just out battling us. We couldn't contain them," said Eberle.
Edmonton, 2-6-3 in its last 11 games, is likely to be without forwards Nail Yakupov (head) and Ales Hemsky (bruised ankle) again tonight.
It is unknown if Bryzgalov will start tonight or if Ben Scrivens will make his second start with the Oilers since being acquired from the Los Angeles Kings.
Bryzgalov is 8-7-2 with a 2.58 GAA lifetime versus the Canucks, while Scrivens faced them for the first time in his career on Nov. 25 with Los Angeles. He stopped 37-of-39 shots in the win, but yielded four goals on 33 shots in losing his Edmonton debut to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday.
The Canucks have outscored the Oilers 10-2 in a pair of home meetings this season, with Sedin notching three assists.
Vancouver has won eight of the previous 11 encounters overall and the clubs have split the past six games in Edmonton.
01/21 10:56:41 ET