Canucks vs. Rangers Preview
Looking for their fifth straight victory over New York, the league-leading Canucks continue a five-game road trip Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
Vancouver (28-8-6) improved to 14-0-3 since its last regulation loss on Dec. 5 after a 4-3 shootout win Tuesday against the New York Islanders.
According to NHL odds and oddsmakers from online sports book SBGGlobal.com have made the Canucks -125 money line favorites for Thursday's game against the Rangers. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 66% of more than 178 bets for this game have been placed on the Canucks -125.
The three losses in that span have come in overtime against Southeast Division leader Tampa Bay and Central-leading Detroit. The Canucks also fell in a shootout at home to the Red Wings on Saturday before going on the road.
Vancouver had a season-high 51 shots on goal against the Islanders, scoring at least three goals for the 14th time in 16 games. After being named to the All-Star team for the first time, Ryan Kesler scored a goal and added one in the shootout for the Canucks
"It was a really nice ending, win the game and get the two points and it was a pretty good day for me today," he told the team's official website.
Kesler has 24 goals in 42 games after totaling 25 in 82 contests last season. He also has a goal and four assists in his last three games versus the Rangers with three assists coming in a 4-1 win on Nov. 3, 2009.
Roberto Luongo made 38 saves against the Islanders - the team that originally drafted him fourth overall in 1997 - to improve to 9-0-2 with a 1.94 goals-against average during Vancouver's run. Luongo, who will likely start against the Rangers, is 3-7-0 with a 3.33 GAA in his career at MSG, but won in his only appearance there since joining Vancouver in 2006.
Luongo stopped 39 shots in a 6-3 victory on Nov. 19, 2008.
The Rangers' three-game winning streak ended Tuesday with a 2-1 home loss to Montreal, spoiling the debut of forward Wojtek Wolski. Acquired Monday from Phoenix for defenseman Michal Rozsival, Wolski hit the post on one shot and nearly scored on a one-timer early in the game.
"He certainly was around the puck and had a number of opportunities to score," coach John Tortorella said. "You can see his talent level."
Wolski had a career-high four points with a goal and three assists for Colorado in a 4-1 win over Vancouver on Nov. 25, 2006.
New York (25-16-3) has been outscored 16-6 in four losses to Vancouver since a victory at MSG nearly seven years ago. Henrik Lundqvist, also headed to the All-Star game later this month in North Carolina, is 0-3-0 with a 4.59 GAA in three career starts versus the Canucks.
He was pulled early in the second period after stopping 12 of 17 shots in the most recent home loss to Vancouver in 2008.
Besides trying to slow down Kesler, Lundqvist will also try to keep high-scoring twins and fellow Swedes Henrik and Daniel Sedin off the scoresheet.
Both are tied for third with 55 points, however Daniel has 25 goals while Henrik has an NHL-best 46 assists.
Daniel has one goal in each of the last three meetings, and Henrik has a goal and three assists in a four-game points streak against the Rangers.