Season Series: This is the fourth meeting of six between these Northwest Division rivals. Vancouver has taken all three games so far this season, although each of those contests was closer than the final scores would indicate. Vancouver edged Colorado 4-3 in overtime on Oct. 26 and then won again on Nov. 4 by a score of 3-1. In their last meeting on Nov. 24, Colorado rallied late in the third to bring the score within one until Alexandre Burrows tacked on an insurance goal in a 4-2 Vancouver win.
Big Story: Despite a four-game winning streak, the Canucks only lead the Avalanche by six points in the Northwest Division standings, so both teams will be gunning for the victory in this Northwest Division tilt.
Canucks: It’s the midpoint of the NHL regular season and the Vancouver Canucks are proving to be an ominous force in the Western Conference, complete with a four-game winning streak.
Despite garnering eight points in four games, the Canucks squeaked by the Dallas Stars on New Year's Eve in a game where the score did not reflect the level of play on the ice. In fact, Cory Schneider stopped 44 shots to lead his team to a 4-1 victory in the Lone Star State.
"Dallas was probably the better team overall for 60 minutes, but sometimes all you need is a good power play and a good goalie," Daniel Sedin said.
Avalanche: Colorado just split a two-game road trip through Western Canada with a 4-3 shootout win in Edmonton on Thursday night and a 3-2 loss to the Calgary Flames on Friday. However, Colorado hopes to pick up steam again as it opens a five-game homestand Sunday night against the Canucks in a contest that will essentially be worth four points in the Northwest Division standings.
The 3-2 loss to the Flames was a hard one for the Avs to swallow after working so hard for the extra point in Edmonton two nights prior.
"They were the better team for 40 minutes," Avs center Paul Stastny told the Denver Post. "It's not rocket science; every time the puck drops, compete. We've said it before, cut down on our turnovers. We had some tonight, and when you do that it can change the momentum of the game. Sometimes it keeps guys out there a little too long, and we get a little tired and they score a goal."
Who’s Hot: Schneider turned aside 44 shots against the Stars to backstop the Canucks to victory on Friday night. Schneider is 6-0-2 this season. Burrows has tallied 17 points in 26 games this season … Matt Duchene boasts a team-best 38 points this season and has four points in as many games. Tomas Fleischmann is proving to be a nice addition to the Avs' frontline and has notched three points in his last three games.
Injury Report: Vancouver could be close to getting forward Mason Raymond back from a broken thumb, while defenseman Sami Salo, who had Achilles surgery during the offseason, has started skating with the team as well. Also out are forwards Guillaume Desbiens (hand), Peter Schaefer (undisclosed) and Rick Rypien (personal). …The Avs are without Peter Mueller (head), Kyle Cumiskey (head), Kyle Quincey (shoulder) and Chris Stewart (hand). Forward Cody McLeod (groin) is day-to-day.
Stat Pack: Colorado has allowed three goals or more in eight of its last nine games, but is second overall in goals scored with 128.
Puck Drop: Roberto Luongo rejoined the Canucks on the road after missing the last game to be with his wife who gave birth to the couple’s second child, a boy, on Wednesday in South Florida.