After winning their twelfth home game in a row on Sunday afternoon against the Winnipeg Jets, the Pittsburgh Penguins head west for their Western Canada road trip. The road trip begins tonight against the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks have lost four straight games with the latest defeat coming at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday.
Records: Penguins (31-12-1, 63 pts.); Canucks (23-13-8, 54 pts.)
Season series: Penguins lead 1-0
Last meeting: As part of the new collective bargaining agreement, inter-conference foes play a home-and-home series. The Penguins and Canucks already met in Pittsburgh back on October 19th, a game that saw the Penguins come away with a 4-3 shootout victory. Both teams traded goals throughout the game with Alexander Edler, Brad Richardson, and Zack Kassian scoring in regulation for Vancouver. Pittsburgh countered with regulation goals from Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby, and Olli Maatta. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all Canuck attempts in the shootout while Roberto Luongo failed to stop Evgeni Malkin to give the Penguins the additional point in the standings.
Who to keep an eye on:
1. Ryan Kesler: The U.S. Olympian has registered a goal in each of Vancouver’s last two games, and leads the Canucks in goals with seventeen. Kesler is also a danger on the power play, leading the team with seven goals on the man-advantage. So a key to stopping Kesler is staying out of the penalty box.
2. Jussi Jokinen: Another Olympian, the Finnish-born winger has three goals in Pittsburgh’s last two contest, and seven points in their last five. His three goals come after going fourteen games without a goal.
Ex-Penguin alert: D Dan Hamhuis (2010…kinda)
Penguins: G Tomas Vokoun (blood clot), D Paul Martin (broken tibia), RW Beau Bennett (wrist/hand), C Andrew Ebbett (broken ankle), C Jayson Megna (lower body), RW Pascal Dupuis (knee), RW Chris Conner (hand), RWChuck Kobasew (lower body)
Canucks: C Jordan Schroeder (ankle), RW Alex Burrows (broken jaw), D Alexander Edler (lower body), D Ryan Stanton (ankle), D Andrew Alberts (concussion), C Henrik Sedin (unknown), G Roberto Luongo (upper body), LW Chris Higgins (flu)
-Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz were named to Team Canada today, while Jussi Jokinen and Olli Maatta were chosen to Team Finland for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Evgeni Malkin will be on Team Russia.
-From the Canucks, Roberto Luongo and Dan Hamhuis will be on Team Canada, Henrik and Daniel Sedin along with Alexander Edler will be on Team Sweden, and Yannick Weber will be on Team Switzerland. Ryan Kesler was chosen for Team USA at the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day.
-Roberto Luongo will miss tonight’s game with his upper body injury, Eddie Lack will start for Vancouver.
-What’s up Torts?
Penguins (via penguins.nhl.com)
14 Chris Kunitz (A)-87 Sidney Crosby (C)-49 Brian Gibbons
36 Jussi Jokinen-71 Evgeni Malkin (A)-18 James Neal
15 Tanner Glass-16 Brandon Sutter-17 Taylor Pyatt
27 Craig Adams-46 Joe Vitale-5 Deryk Engelland
44 Brooks Orpik-47 Simon Despres
4 Rob Scuderi-58 Kris Letang
3 Olli Maatta-2 Matt Niskanen
29 Marc-Andre Fleury (24-10-1, .919 save %, 2.23 GAA, 3 SO)
Canucks (via dailyfaceoff.com)
22 Daniel Sedin (A)-33 Henrik Sedin (C)-25 Mike Santorelli
20 Chris Higgins-17 Ryan Kesler-9 Zack Kassian
7 David Booth-15 Brad Richardson-36 Jannik Hansen
29 Tom Sestito-21 Zac Dalpe-49 Darren Archibald
8 Chris Tanev-2 Dan Hamhuis
3 Kevin Bieksa (A)-26 Frank Corrado
5 Jason Garrison-6 Yannik Weber
31 Eddie Lack (7-3-2, .923 save %, 2.16 GAA, 2 SO)