Two of the top teams in the Western Conference will get together tonight in Vancouver, as the Canucks host the St. Louis Blues in a showdown at Rogers Arena.
The Canucks lead the West by one point over the Blues and Detroit Red Wings, who are currently tied for first place in the Central Division. The Red Wings are not playing tonight, so St. Louis can take over sole possession of first place in the division with a point.
The Blues have won four straight and are coming off Wednesday's decisive win in Edmonton. The 5-2 victory pushed St. Louis to a perfect 4-0 record so far on a six-game road trip. The Blues, who will end the swing Saturday in San Jose, are just 14-13-3 as the guest this year compared to a stellar 26-4-4 home record.
Kevin Shattenkirk registered a power-play goal and two assists to help lead the Blues past the Oilers. Andy McDonald also scored two goals for the Blues, while Jaroslav Halak made 22 saves to match St. Louis battery-mate Brian Elliott with 20 wins. It marks the first time in Blues history that two goalies have posted at least 20 wins in a season.
The Blues and Canucks are meeting for the last time in the regular season tonight. St. Louis won the first two encounters before Vancouver notched an overtime victory in Missouri on Jan. 12. The Blues have taken two of three and four of the last seven matchups in Vancouver.
Although they've still only suffered one regulation loss over their last 18 games, the Canucks will try to avoid their first three-game losing streak in over a year when they take the ice tonight.
Vancouver was dealt a 3-2 overtime setback in Dallas on Sunday and then dropped a shootout decision in Phoenix on Tuesday. The Canucks still boast a 12-1-5 record over their last 18 games.
However, a loss tonight would give the defending Western Conference champions their longest skid since an 0-1-3 stretch from Jan. 16-22 of last season.
The Canucks dropped a 2-1 decision in Phoenix to end a six-game road trip with a 3-1-2 mark. Ray Whitney scored the game-tying goal in the third period for the Coyotes and also netted the deciding goal in the shootout.
Whitney opened the shootout with a wrister over the left shoulder of Cory Schneider, and after Alexander Edler, Radim Vrbata and Mason Raymond were each denied, Mikkel Boedker sealed the win for the Coyotes by faking right before deking left and beating Schneider to the stick side.
Alexander Edler scored and Schneider made 34 saves for the Canucks, who are 18 points ahead of Colorado for the Northwest Division lead.
Tonight's test marks the start of a seven-game homestand for Vancouver, which is 18-6-4 as the host this season.