Canucks vs. Blue Jackets Preview
COLUMBUS, OH (AP) - Last season, the Vancouver Canucks were the only team in the Western Conference playoffs with a losing road record. There's no chance that will be the case when the Canucks open the postseason in a few weeks.View Current Vancouver Canucks Odds
Vancouver looks to reach 50 wins for the first time and match a franchise record with an eighth consecutive road victory Sunday when it faces a slumping Columbus Blue Jackets team that hasn't scored in its last two home games.
Despite equaling the club record with 49 wins last season, the Canucks finished 19-20-2 away from Rogers Arena and never won more than three consecutive road games.
According to NHL odds and oddsmakers from online sports book SBGGLOBAL.com have made the Canucks -151 money line favorites for Sunday's game against the Blue Jackets. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 62% of more than 213 bets for this game have been placed on the Canucks -151.
Vancouver (49-17-9) has a far better balance this season, posting an NHL-best 25 home wins and tying Detroit for the league lead in road victories at 24 with Friday's 3-1 win over Atlanta. The Canucks' ninth victory in 10 games overall also set single-season franchise records for points (107) and road wins.
"It's nice to score, but more importantly, we did some things as a club that we wanted to do," forward Mason Raymond said. "First thing is we got that franchise record - that was a goal we set for ourselves. ... If we keep doing the things that make us successful, we'll keep moving forward."
The Canucks' push for the Presidents' Trophy and home-ice advantage throughout the postseason continues in Columbus, where they'll try to match a franchise-best eight-game road winning streak set Dec. 23, 2003-Jan. 13, 2004.
Vancouver has won six in a row against the Blue Jackets and three straight at Nationwide Arena. In the teams' only meeting in Ohio this season, the Canucks matched their highest-scoring output with a 7-3 victory Dec. 23.
Henrik Sedin had a goal and a career high-tying four points in that win, while Daniel Sedin and Alex Burrows each scored and had two assists. Ryan Kesler leads all Canucks with four goals in the season series, helping put the team in position for its first four-game sweep of Columbus since 2001-02.
Vancouver's confidence on the road and against Columbus (33-30-11) doesn't bode well for coach Scott Arniel's club, which has been shut out in three of its last five games, including two straight on home ice.
"We just have to work through this, stick with it and the goals will come," captain Rick Nash said following Thursday's 3-0 loss at Phoenix.
The Blue Jackets, losers of 12 of 14, could find it difficult to score against Roberto Luongo, who is 5-0-0 with a 1.79 goals-against average in his last five road starts. He made 30 saves Friday for his league-best 35th win.
Even with Vancouver holding a double-digit lead atop the West, coach Alain Vigneault has no plans of sitting Luongo.
"When you're fighting to get into the playoffs, you play your No. 1 goaltender," he said.
Luongo, though, is just 1-4-0 with a 2.84 GAA in five career starts in Columbus. He backed up Cory Schneider (24 saves) on Dec. 23.
Columbus' Steve Mason is 1-5-3 with a 3.28 GAA in nine starts since a 2-1 shootout loss at Vancouver on March 1.
Blue Jackets backup Mathieu Garon has yielded nine goals, including a season-high six Dec. 23, in two starts versus the Canucks this season.