The Canucks had a season-high five-game winning streak halted by Nashville on Thursday, but Vancouver rebounded with Sunday's rout of the Calgary Flames. Sunday's victory also marked the first start for goaltender Roberto Luongo since mid-November.
Luongo is one of the highest-paid goaltenders in the NHL, but he briefly lost his grip on Vancouver's starting job due to the combination of an upper-body injury and the hot play of backup Corey Schneider. The three-time Vezina Trophy finalist was unable to suit up for two games on Nov. 16 and 20, but in addition to starting both of those games, Schneider also got the call in Vancouver's next five games.
However, Luongo made his first appearance in net last Thursday, when Schneider was pulled after allowing three goals on five shots in the first period against Nashville. Luongo, who stopped 12-of-15 shots in the relief loss to the Predators, made his first start since Nov. 13 on Sunday and turned aside 21-of-22 shots in the 5-1 win over the Flames.
"The guys did a really good job not creating turnovers and making sure they didn't have any odd-man rushes," said Luongo.
David Booth and Chris Higgins each scored a goal and added two assists, as the Canucks netted five unanswered to down the Flames at Rogers Arena. Kevin Bieksa, Daniel Sedin and Jannik Hansen all scored in the victory.
Getting Luongo to play at a consistently high level again is a key for Vancouver this season, so expect head coach Alain Vigneault to use his No. 1 again tonight.
This evening's test marks the end of a four-game homestand for the Canucks, who are 7-4-1 as the host this season.
The Avalanche, meanwhile, enter tonight on a three-game winning streak. It marks the first time Colorado has won consecutive games since a five-game winning streak from Oct. 10-17.
Colorado's most recent win came Sunday against Detroit in the finale of an eight-game homestand. Ryan O'Reilly scored twice and rookie Gabriel Landeskog had two assists to help the Avs down the Red Wings, 4-2, and finish the residency at the Pepsi Center with a 5-3 mark.
After falling behind 1-0 in the first, the Avalanche grabbed the momentum with two unanswered goals in the second stanza. Detroit tied the game at 2-2 early in the third before Galiardi netted the game-winner a few minutes later on a feed from Landeskog.
"It was a total team effort. It really helped our confidence after being down in the first," Landeskog said about the second period. "We realized we couldn't wait until the third period against these guys."
Stastny suffered a torso injury in the third period of Sunday's game and is questionable for tonight. Fellow forward Chuck Kobasew is also questionable after sitting out the last game with a leg issue.
Tonight marks the start of a three-game road trip for the Avs, who are 6-4-1 as the road team this season.
Vancouver has claimed two straight and six of the last seven tests against the Avs. Colorado has also dropped three in a row and five of six in British Columbia.