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Scenes from morning skate: Demko back between the pipes as Canucks host Carolina

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
2 months ago
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The Vancouver Canucks (17-9-1) are on storm watch tonight as they host the Carolina Hurricanes (14-11-1) at Rogers Arena. The Canucks are looking to put back to back wins together for the first time in nearly a month.

What we saw

Only a handful of Canucks took to the ice at Rogers Arena this morning in a highly optional skate. Thatcher Demko, who celebrated his 28th birthday yesterday, will return to the net after backing up Casey DeSmith on Thursday. Demko surrendered a season-high six goals in his last start in Tuesday’s 6-5 loss to New Jersey. The goaltender is the only change to the line-up that beat Minnesota 2-0 on Thursday. That means Andrei Kuzmenko remains in a fourth line role with Nils Aman and Phil Di Giuseppe. It also means Mark Friedman is the lone healthy scratch for the hockey club.
The Canucks last strung consecutive victories together on November 12th in Montreal and November 15th against the New York Islanders. That brought the club’s record to 12-3-1 to start the season. The Canucks are 5-6 in their 11 games since. They have alternated wins and losses over the past 10 games.
Nils Höglander has scored in back to back games and has 6 goals in his last 11 outings.Brock Boeser continues to lead the NHL with 18 goals and rides a six-game point streak into action tonight (5+4=9).
The Canucks split their two game season series with Carolina last season. The win came January 15th in Raleigh and was Bruce Boudreau’s final victory behind the Canucks bench. He was relieved of his coaching duties one week later and replaced by Rick Tocchet.
Earlier this morning, the Canucks returned forward Linus Karlsson to AHL Abbotsford. Karlsson has appeared in three games for the Canucks this season and is still looking for his first point. He was a healthy scratch on Thursday. With Karlsson demoted, the Canucks currently have two empty spots on their 23-man NHL roster. However, Pius Suter, who skated with the team for the first time in more than three weeks yesterday, will be activated from the injured list soon and could play before the end of next week.
The Hurricanes have dropped the first three games of their current six-game road trip and have scored just four goals over that stretch. Beyond that, they are 1-3-1 in their last five outings. They last played Thursday when they fell 3-2 in Calgary.
Tuevo Teravainen leads the team with 11 goals while Sebastian Aho paces the Hurricanes with 22 points.
Carolina captain Jordan Staal is set to skate in his 1200th NHL regular season game tonight. It will happen in the same building where he was the 2nd overall pick in the 2006 NHL Draft. Of those 1200 games, only 20 have come against the Canucks.
The Hurricanes hold the distinction of leading the league in shots per game (34.6) and also the fewest shots allowed per game (25.1). They have outshot their opponents in 12 straight games.
Carolina has struggled to get consistent goaltending this season and currently sit 32nd and last in the NHL in team save percentage at .873. Pyotr Kochetkov has started the last two games, but has not posted a victory since December 2nd against Buffalo. Anttti Raanta’s last win came on November 22nd against Edmonton.
The Canes are playing their league-leading 16th road game of the season tonight. After tonight, Carolina will play just six games outside of the Eastern time zone.
Tonight’s referees: Corey Syvret & TJ Luxmore

What we heard

Rick Tocchet on what Canucks need to back up a solid effort on Thursday with another one tonight: “Well, 60 minutes. We’ve been talking about it here for about three weeks. A full complete game. Can we put a full 60 where we’re dialled in? That’s been the message here for the last couple of days. And starting on time.”
Tocchet on the challenges Carolina poses: “They play with a lot of pressure. They chip a lot of pucks into space and they’ve got fast forwards. Carolina’s identity for the last five or six years has been they put a lot of pressure on you. When you have the puck, you have to know where you’re going with it quick. You can’t massage the puck. It’s like chess. You’ve got to know two moves ahead.”
Elias Pettersson on generating shots against Hurricanes: “We’ve got to try to break that (defence). It’s a cliché, but we need to to the net and get pucks to the net. It’s not just shooting for the sake of shooting, but we have to make sure to have net presence and then shoot because then chaos can happen.”

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