NHL Hockey: Colorado Avalanche at Vancouver Canucks - Canucks Favored
The Canucks try to win their fourth straight game and create some separation in the standings when they host the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday.
Oddsmakers have made Vancouver -161 money line (NHL Odds)
favorites for todays game, the over/under has been set at 5.5 total goals (View NHL Sports Books).
Vancouver (33-21-4) took over the division lead with a 2-1 shootout victory over Chicago on Friday, but Calgary matched the Canucks' 70 points after defeating the Avalanche 5-3 on Saturday. The co-leaders have a one-point lead over Minnesota, which is eighth in the Western Conference.
Vancouver has climbed the standings by winning four of its last five, and is 9-2-3 since Jan. 13.
All-Star goaltender Roberto Luongo turned aside 34 shots against the Blackhawks, and has been crucial to the Canucks' recent success allowing two goals or less in 10 of his last 13 starts.
"Roberto gave us a chance," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said after Friday's victory. "He's one of the top three goaltenders in the NHL right now. He and (New Jersey's Martin) Brodeur are probably fighting it out for the top spot.''
Luongo, though, has struggled in his career against Colorado (28-26-4). He made 40 saves in Vancouver's 2-1 victory over the Avalanche on Dec. 2 for his first win in eight starts against them. He had been 0-7-0 with a 3.64 goals-against average coming into that game.
The Canucks lost their first three games of the season to the Avalanche - all in Denver - before winning in December at GM Place. Vancouver has been considerably better on its home ice against Colorado, winning three straight and four of its last five.
Daniel Sedin has scored a goal in each of the three games he's played against the Avalanche this season, while twin brother Henrik has three goals and eight assists in 12 games against them since 2005-06.
Markus Naslund has two goals and two assists against the Avalanche this season giving him four goals and 10 assists in his last 11 games versus them.
The Avalanche have dropped seven of their last 11 overall and are last in the Northwest with 60 points.
"We can't look back now," Colorado forward Brad May said. "It's behind us and we have to learn from our mistakes.''
Rookie Paul Stastny extended his career-high point streak to seven games with a goal on Saturday, and is two points away from tying Alex Tanguay's franchise record for most points by a rookie (51) set in 1999-2000. Stastny has five goals and four assists during his run, and two goals and three assists against the Canucks this season.
All-Star Joe Sakic also has a season-high seven-game point streak, recording five goals and nine assists.
Sakic has four assists in as many games against Vancouver this season, and five goals and nine assists in 12 games against them since 2005-06.
In 67 career games against the Canucks, the 18-year veteran has 89 points, his most against any team.
Goalie Jose Theodore has played in just six games since Jan. 1, going 2-2-0 with a 4.26 GAA in those contests. The former Hart and Vezina Trophy winner is 3-0-0 with a 1.51 GAA in four starts against Vancouver this season.
by: Gary Roberts - theSpread.com - Email Us
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