The Vancouver Canucks will try to continue their recent dominance of Colorado when they welcome the Avalanche for tonight's Northwest Division clash at Rogers Arena.
The Canucks have taken all three meetings against the Avalanche this season and have claimed four straight, eight of nine and 12 of the last 14 encounters in this series. Colorado hasn't fared well in British Columbia either, losing four in a row and six of its last seven trips to Vancouver.
Vancouver hopes to use its mastery of the Avs to try and increase its already- comfortable lead atop the Northwest, a division that the Canucks have won in three straight and four of the last five seasons. The Canucks are leading the division with 76 points, placing them 14 points ahead of second-place Calgary.
The Canucks enter tonight having earned at least a point in 10 straight games and they are 7-0-3 over that stretch. After dropping a shootout decision Saturday in Calgary, Vancouver was able to record a shootout victory of its own on Monday against Phoenix.
Ryan Kesler scored the game-winning goal against the Coyotes, as he tallied in the sixth round of the deciding phase to lift Vancouver to a 2-1 triumph. It marked the eighth time in the past 10 games that the Canucks were pushed past regulation.
On the winning score, Kesler moved in slowly and fired a quick wrist shot low to the stick side of Coyotes netminder Jason LaBarbera. Roberto Luongo then stopped Boyd Gordon on Phoenix's final attempt to seal the victory.
Kesler added an assist and David Booth scored in regulation for the Canucks, while Luongo finished with 23 saves in the win.
"There wasn't a lot of room out there. We knew it was going to be a battle," Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler said.
The win over Phoenix kicked off a three-game homestand for Vancouver, which is 16-6-4 as the host team this season.
Canucks defenseman Keith Ballard has sat out the last three games with a neck injury and a possible concussion and he will miss another game tonight. Meanwhile, forward Chris Higgins is expected to return tonight for Vancouver after sitting out the last six games due to an adverse reaction to antibiotics.
Colorado enters this evening on a four-game point streak (2-0-2), but unlike the Canucks, the Avs have won just twice in their last eight trips to the ice.
The Avalanche began a four-game road trip Saturday in St. Louis and were handed a 3-2 overtime loss. All four regulation goals were scored in the first period and Carlo Colaiacovo delivered the game-winner for the Blues with 1:42 left in OT.
"The points are huge right now," said Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco. "We're in a situation where we need as many as we can get down the stretch."
The OT loss in St. Louis dropped Colorado to 12-12-3 as the road team this season. After tonight, the Avs will complete this trek with stops in Edmonton and Winnipeg.