Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Canucks game day: Canucks and Stars prepare for a battle of two streaking teams
11 months ago
The suddenly red-hot Vancouver Canucks will wrap up their six-game homestand tonight when they host the equally scorching Dallas Stars.
The Canucks and Stars will be facing off for the second time in just three weeks after Thatcher Demko stopped 34 shots in his return from injury and Andrei Kuzmenko scored the winner in the Canucks 5-4 overtime victory in Dallas.
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Since losing to the Canucks at the end of February, the Stars have been on an absolute roll with six wins in their last seven games.
Dallas is fresh off a long weekend sweep of the Seattle Kraken, including a 5-2 win at Climate Pledge Arena last night. They’ve been on the right end of some lopsided victories, including the Avalanche 7-3 and the Sabres 10-4. Even their only March loss, a 5-4 defeat against the Calgary Flames, came thanks to a Tyler Toffoli goal with only seven seconds left in regulation.
Nearly everything is clicking for Dallas these days, but they’re coming into Vancouver for the second game of a back-to-back. And the Canucks have been no slouches of late themselves, riding in on a four-game winning streak.
Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller have six points each across Vancouver’s last four games, seven of which have come during shorthanded situations. Andrei Kuzmenko had a pair of goals on Saturday against the Senators and is looking to break through the 40-goal barrier before the season is over. And the Canucks’ seemingly overmatched defensive group has bent but has yet to break over this recent stretch thanks in large part to 30 minutes of ice time a night for Quinn Hughes and a return to form from Thatcher Demko.
This game seems ripe for the Canucks to walk away with another pair of points against a tired Stars team, but they’re still going to have their hands full. Jason Robertson has been incredible this season, with 85 points in 67 games, including 12 in Dallas’ last seven outings. Miro Heiskanen has also reached that scoring clip, while Roope Hintz, Jamie Benn and Joe Pavelski have each scored ten over the same stretch.
In goal, Dallas might be planning to start Jake Oettinger for the second straight game thanks to an injury to regular backup Scott Wedgewood. Dallas coach Pete DeBoer does have Matthew Murray (no relation to the Leafs goalie) at his disposal, but with the Stars holding onto the Central Division lead by just three points he’s likely going back to the number one goalie looking for their 30th win of the season.
This game will be an interesting litmus test for just how much Rick Tocchet’s system has improved the Canucks ability to hang with playoff teams, and if their defensive group is strong enough to hold off a Stars squad rife with offensive talent. The goaltending will be on even footing between Demko and Oettinger, so it’s going to entirely come down to which team can outscore the other.
As long as the Stars are sure about who they’re facing of course.
Puck drop between the Canucks and Stars at Rogers Arena is scheduled for 7:00 PM.
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