A pair of teams who have become familiar foes in the playoffs over the last few years will meet tonight in Vancouver, as the Canucks host the Chicago Blackhawks for a showdown at Rogers Arena.
The Canucks and Blackhawks have met in each of the last three postseasons and Chicago won the first two series before losing to Vancouver in a classic opening-round matchup last spring.
After winning a Stanley Cup in 2010, Chicago was a dangerous eighth-seed last year and nearly pulled off an amazing comeback against the Canucks. Vancouver won the first three games of the series before the Blackhawks took Games 4, 5 and 6 to become just the seventh team in NHL history to force a Game 7 after trailing a series three-games-to-none.
In the end, the Canucks avoided one of the biggest collapses in NHL playoff history by edging the Blackhawks, 2-1, in overtime to take the decisive seventh game. Of course, Vancouver went on to win the Western Conference title before falling in seven games to Boston.
As far as the regular season goes, Vancouver has won two straight meetings with the Blackhawks, but the clubs have split the last six encounters. Each team has three wins in the last six matchups in British Columbia.
The Blackhawks have been the better team in the early going this season, as they have an 11-4-3 record compared to Vancouver's 9-8-1 start.
Chicago will aim for a fourth straight victory tonight after matching its season-best win streak with Sunday's victory over visiting Edmonton. This evening's test also marks the first of six straight on the road for the Blackhawks, who are 4-3-1 as the visiting club this year.
Montador has three goals in his last two games after going without a tally in his first 15 games of the year. The veteran defenseman had five goals in 73 games for Buffalo last year.
"I just want to take advantage of the opportunities that I'm getting," Montador said. "I'm just happy to be contributing."
The Blackhawks lost defenseman Brent Seabrook to a lower body injury in Sunday's game and he is questionable for tonight. Centerman Dave Bolland (foot) is also questionable after sitting out the last three tilts with a bruised right foot.
Meanwhile, the Canucks have won three of their last four games and are coming off Sunday's 4-1 triumph against the visiting New York Islanders. The victory kicked off a three-game homestand and pushed Vancouver's record at Rogers Arena to 4-2-1.
"We worked real hard tonight," Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault said.
Luongo, a three-time Vezina Trophy finalist, is now 7-5-1 on the season. Vancouver's No. 1 goaltender has been much-maligned this year, but Luongo has yielded two goals or less in four of his last six starts.
However, Luongo is day-to-day with an upper body injury, meaning Cory Schneider is expected to get the start tonight. Eddie Lack will get recalled from the AHL's Chicago Wolves if Luongo is unable to suit up as the backup.