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Canucks game day: Lotto Line ready to roll again against Bo Horvat and the Islanders

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
6 months ago
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Look out Long Island, here comes the Lotto Line. After nailing it in New Jersey and riding high against the Rangers, the Vancouver Canucks reunited top line will look to make it three straight productive nights when they face off against the New York Islanders at UBS Arena. 
The trio of Elias Pettersson with JT Miller and Brock Boeser has struck for eight goals and eight assists in the past two games. Pettersson led the way with two goals and two primary helpers in the Canucks impressive 6-3 win last night at Madison Square Garden. Petterson has back to back two-goal games and has scored a pair now in three of the team’s last four outings. So far in 2024, he leads the league in both goals (6) and points (9).
The Canucks will reach the midway mark of their NHL schedule with the conclusion of tonight’s game and carry a record of 26-11-3 into action. After the wins over the Devils and Rangers, they are 10-2-2 in their last 14 contests. 
With no morning skate after playing last night, it will be closer to game time before the Canucks line-up for tonight is known. Casey DeSmith is expected to get the start in goal. He has not played since a 4-1 loss to Philadelphia in the Canucks first game out of the Christmas break on December 28th. On the season, DeSmith is 6-3-2 with a 2.58 GAA and a .917 save percentage. It will be worth watching to see if Rick Tocchet tinkers with his defence corps playing on consecutive nights and three times in four days. The coach spoke of the idea of a possible rotation of blueliners at Monday’s morning skate. Noah Juulsen was a healthy scratch for the first time in 25 games last night against the Rangers.
With a two goal lead for much of the third period, the Canucks had the luxury of evenly distributing ice time on the blueline last night. Quinn Hughes was the high ice time man against the Rangers but at a very manageable 21:49 while Carson Soucy was the low man at 18:46. That may influence Tocchet’s decision since no one was overly taxed in the first game of the back to back set.
The Canucks did not have a power play on Monday against the Rangers and have now had just three power plays in their last four games. Florida and Carolina have both already scored five power play goals in January. The Canucks have had three power plays. Total. Pittsburgh has had 17 power plays in the same number of games.
The Islanders have been idle since a 5-2 loss in Vegas on Saturday. Mathew Barzal and Matt Martin scored the New York goals. The Isles dropped three of four on a road trip that ended in Sin City and they have lost four of six since Christmas.
Brock Nelson leads the team with 17 goals one better than Bo Horvat. Barzal is the Islanders scoring leader with 11+29=40 – also one better than Horvat. In the 68 games he has played since being acquired by the Isles nearly a year ago, Bo Horvat has 23+32=55 including seven power play goals, three game winners and is 53.3% on face-offs.
Ilya Sorokin has started six of the last seven and appeared in seven straight. He will get the start again tonight with back-up Semyon Varlamov working his way back from injury.
Noah Dobson is having a stellar season and sits fifth among all NHL defencemen with 38 points (6+32=38). Since December 1st, he is tied with Quinn Hughes and Edmonton’s Evan Bouchard for top spot with 17 points, and his 16 assists over that span leads all blueliners.
The Islanders rank 31st in the NHL on the penalty kill at 71.8% and only San Jose averages more than the 35.1 shots NYI surrender per game. The Isles have been to overtime 14 times in 39 games and have collected a league-high 10 overtime or shootout loser points. They are 3-7 in games decided in OT (including a November 15th loss to the Canucks) and 1-3 in shootouts. The Islanders are a formidable 10-4-6 on home ice. Only the Bruins and Hurricanes have fewer regulation losses at home.
The Isles enter the night tied with Philadelphia for third place in the Metropolitan Division just three back of Carolina. However, New York gets the nod by virtue of a better winning percentage. The Flyers occupy the first Wild Card slot in the East.

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