After suffering their first regulation loss in 39 days last night in New York, the Vancouver Canucks (28-9-6) will look to bounce back with a win at the Verizon Center when they make their first and only visit of the regular season to the U.S. capital to face Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals (24-13-7).
It was the best stretch of regular season play in the 40-year history of the team but, like all good things, it had to come to an end sooner or later. The only regret the Canucks have is that they didn’t seem to put up much of a fight yesterday against the Rangers as they tried to keep their franchise-record 17-game regulation unbeaten streak (14-0-3) alive.
The Canucks fired 31 shots at All-Star Henrik Lundqvist yesterday but few of those seemed to be give the Rangers’ netminder much difficulty as he turned them all aside to hold the Canucks off the scoresheet for the first time since November 9 when Carey Price blanked them 2-0 at the Bell Centre in Montreal. The loss was Vancouver’s first regulation defeat since December 5 against the Blues and their first regulation loss on the road since November 17 at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.
The loss also prevented the Canucks from taking a five-point lead over the idle Red Wings for top spot in the Western Conference. They could still do that tonight with a win over the Capitals and a Detroit loss in their game in Columbus but in order for the Canucks to give themselves a chance at that possibility, they’ll need to come out with a much more determined effort tonight against a Capitals team that finds themselves in a situation very similar to the Canucks’ as they too are coming off a shutout loss that snapped a lengthy unbeaten streak.
Roberto Luongo will be back between the pipes for the Canucks after getting the night off in New York yesterday and watching his backup, Cory Schneider, turn in a stellar 34-save performance in a losing effort. Tonight will mark the first meeting between the Luongo and Capitals’ superstar Alex Ovechkin since the quarterfinal round of the 2010 Winter Olympic hockey tournament in Vancouver. Luongo got the better of Ovechkin in that contest as he led Canada to a 7-3 win over the Russians.
Read the entire preview exclusively at Canucks.com.
Tonight’s game faces off at 4:00 pm PT and can be seen on Rogers Sportsnet Pacific. The game is also streamed on Canucks.com. Listen live on the TEAM 1040 Sports Radio or online at teamradio.ca.