Vancouver at Colorado

Venue: Pepsi Center
  •  

No team has been able to separate itself from the pack in the Northwest Division thus far, but the Vancouver Canucks appear very capable of doing that.

The Canucks look to win their fifth straight and extend their lead in the Northwest on Sunday night when they visit their closest pursuers - the Colorado Avalanche.

No team was sadder to see December end than the Canucks, who opened a six-point lead in the division with an 11-1-2 record during the month. The team's stellar play actually extends back into the previous month, as it started its current 13-1-2 run with a 4-2 victory over Colorado on Nov. 24.

Vancouver (23-8-5) capped a brilliant month with a 4-1 victory at Dallas on Friday night, getting power-play goals from Daniel and Henrik Sedin and 44 saves from backup Cory Schneider.

"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.

Schneider continued his quietly outstanding season, improving to 6-0-2 with a 2.38 goals-against average. He was backed up by Roberto Luongo, who rejoined his teammates Friday. Luongo had been with his wife, Gina, who gave birth to a boy, the couple's second child, on Wednesday in Florida.

"Some nights you need your goaltender to steal you a win, and that's what we got tonight, an outstanding performance from Schneids, who made the right saves at the right time," coach Alain Vigneault said. "We needed him big tonight, and he came up big for us."

Kevin Bieksa also had a power-play goal for the Canucks, whose top-ranked unit went 3 for 5 with the man advantage, and is 17 for 67 (25.3 percent) in the past 14 games.

Henrik Sedin's goal and assist gave him three and nine during a five-game point streak, while Daniel has four goals and five assists in his last five contests. Henrik leads the league with 40 assists.

Ryan Kesler's eight-game point streak was snapped Friday, but he could be poised to start a new run. Kesler has been instrumental in helping the Canucks win the first three meetings this season against the Avalanche, scoring one goal in each game.

Vancouver is 7-0-1 in the past eight matchups, outscoring Colorado 17-7 while posting three straight wins at the Pepsi Center.

The Avalanche (20-13-5) opened December with a 6-1-2 surge, but closed the month with a 1-3-1 record that included a 3-2 loss in Calgary on New Year's Eve. Daniel Winnik and Tomas Fleischmann scored in the third, but Colorado couldn't complete the comeback after allowing three second-period goals.

"We were pretty resilient there in the third period, but it wasn't enough," coach Joe Sacco said. "It was a little bit too little, too late. At the end of the day it just wasn't good enough."

Defense has been the biggest problem recently for Sacco's team which has allowed three goals or more in eight of the last nine games. Some of that blame rests with goaltender Craig Anderson, 1-3-0 with a 4.09 GAA in his last four starts. He is 2-8-1 with a 3.50 GAA against Vancouver.

Colorado will try to avoid its first four-game home losing streak since an 0-5-2 skid from March 19-April 12, 2009.

Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Game Odds
AwayLineHomeLine
Vancouver -125 Colorado 105
Standings
Team Standings W L OT Pts L 10
Vancouver2nd Pacific 482951016-3-1
ColoradoCentral 393112906-4-0

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Injuries
Vancouver
PlayerInjury
J HansenGroin
 
Colorado
PlayerInjury
D EverbergShoulder
 
Scoring Leaders
Vancouver
Skaters
PlayerGAPTS+/-PIM
Sedin940491214
Sedin2027471212
Kesler1915341332
Samuelsson81624422
Edler22123916
Ehrhoff61420818
Raymond7111832
Burrows71017914
Malhotra61117310
Torres11617-133
 
Colorado
Skaters
PlayerGAPTS+/-PIM
Duchene152338321
Stastny142135226
Hejduk112132-46
Liles52429925
Stewart111425-236
Fleischmann111324016
Jones121022414
Shattenkirk51419-114
O'Reilly4101474
Winnik6814520
 
 
 
Series Game Log
DateLocationResults
Oct 8Colorado 
Dec 5 @ Minnesota 
Dec 7Colorado 
Mar 1 @ Minnesota 
Mar 26Colorado 
Other Games
NYR   1:00
PM
Phi  
NJ   7:30
PM
Ott  
Edm   8:30
PM
Chi  
SJ   10:00
PM
Van  
Colo   10:30
PM
LA