Canucks battle Hawks, Leafs face Bolts while Senators host Isles

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The Sports Network
2/19/2013 1:13:32 PM
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(Sports Network) - The Chicago Blackhawks have a chance at matching an NHL record against one of the few teams to hand them a loss this season.

The Blackhawks try to extend their season-opening point streak to 16 straight games this evening as they continue a lengthy homestand against the Vancouver Canucks.

Things went right for the Canucks during a six-game winning streak from Jan. 30-Feb. 12, a span in which Vancouver outscored its opponents 19-6, but the club has suffered consecutive one-goal setbacks. That includes a regulation defeat to Dallas prior to Sunday's 4-3 shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues that closed out a four-game homestand.

After Vancouver's Alex Burrows had a breakaway attempt turned aside with 30 seconds to go in overtime, the Blues got shootout goals from T.J. Oshie and Andy McDonald, while Ryan Kesler and Burrows were turned aside on their chances.

Playing in his second game of the season after undergoing offseason shoulder and wrist surgery, Kesler had a goal, while Henrik Sedin tallied his first goal of the season as well. Sedin also had an assist in his first game since becoming Vancouver's all-time leader in points.

"I think in the second (period) they made some adjustments from the first period and took away a lot of our options. We had trouble in the second," said Sedin, who now has 759 points over his career. "But in the third we can in and made some adjustments again and it was almost like a chess game."

Mason Raymond also scored and Roberto Luongo made 20 saves. He has still yet to lose in regulation this season, falling to 4-0-3 with a 1.63 GAA and .934 save percentage this season.

Vancouver begins a four-game road trip on Tuesday and has gone 4-1-2 in its past seven trips to Chicago.

Corey Schneider gets the start in goal for the Canucks and forward David Booth will make his season debut in this game after sitting out the first 14 contests due to a groin injury. Following an early- season trade that sent him from Florida to Vancouver in 2011-12, Booth notched 16 goals and 29 points in 56 games with the Canucks.

Chicago has posted a 12-0-3 record on the season, matching the 1984-85 Edmonton Oilers for the second-longest point streak to open a campaign. That is one shy of the NHL-record 12-0-4 mark that the Anaheim Ducks opened the 2006-07 season with.

An encouraging note for the Blackhawks? Both the Oilers and Ducks went on to win the Stanley Cup in their respective seasons.

Chicago won its first six games of the season prior to consecutive shootout losses to Minnesota and Vancouver, which beat the Blackhawks for the fifth time in the past seven meetings.

The 'Hawks have won six of seven since, following up a shootout loss to Anaheim with wins over San Jose and Los Angeles. Chicago picked up the victory on Sunday over the Kings with a 3-2 win in the third contest of a seven-game homestand.

That victory set up this potential record-setting game with the Canucks, though forward Patrick Sharp wasn't aware how close his team was to history after the game.

"I thought we were three away," said Sharp, who scored against the Kings to snap a 10-game goal drought. "It's really not an issue in our locker room to be honest with you. We're just playing hard. We're trying to get better every game. The league's getting better, we've noticed teams have improved since the start of the season and we want to make sure we do the same."

Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews both scored first-period goals and had an assist each, while Ray Emery made 25 saves in another start in place of the injured Corey Crawford (upper body).

Seabrook will not play tonight due to an injury sustained in Sunday's game against the LA Kings and is listed as day-to-day.

Emery has won all five of his starts this season with a 2.17 goals against average and .929 save percentage to compliment balanced scoring by the Blackhawks. Various contributions have been key to Chicago's start according to Toews.

"A lot of people want to look at this streak and think that we're just incredibly hot right now and that everything is going our way, but really we're playing a simple game, we're playing smart and we're getting good starts to games," stated Chicago's captain.

"From top to bottom again, a great performance by everyone. Everyone's contributing so I think when you have that lack of satisfaction and that hunger every single night, it doesn't matter who you're playing, things are going to go your way most of the time."

Lightning try to stay in track against Maple Leafs

(Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Lightning try to string back-to-back wins together tonight when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first of a short two-game homestand at St. Pete Times Forum.

The game is available on TSN Radio 1050 and TSN.ca/Toronto at 6:30pm et/3:30pm pt.

Toronto enters Tuesday's matchup on a winning note after Nazem Kadri and Clarke MacArthur each tallied one goal and one assist to lead the Maple Leafs to a 3-0 win over the Florida Panthers.

Phil Kessel also lit the lamp, while James van Riemsdyk, Dion Phaneuf and Cody Franson each added assists for the Maple Leafs, winners in six of their last seven tilts.

Ben Scrivens stopped all 37 shots to register his second straight shutout and will start in goal this evening.

The victory improved the Leafs to 7-2-0 on the road, marking their best start since 1940-41. The only other time the team had a better start as the visitor was 1934-35, when it began 7-1-1.

"We're still very much a work in progress," said coach Randy Carlyle.

Toronto swept the season series from the Lightning in 2011-12, outscoring them 20-7 in the process. Tampa had swept the series the previous season.

Tampa Bay, meanwhile, put the brakes on a six-game losing streak (0-5-1) on Saturday, as Benoit Pouliot's goal at 1:19 of overtime -- his second of the contest -- capped a rally and sent the Lightning past the Florida Panthers, 6-5.

Pouliot was left alone atop the Florida crease to one-time a puck which had bounced off the end boards and past Panthers defenseman Tyson Strachan into a half-open net.

"We were lucky to get the win, but it was just a matter of being in the right spot at the right time," Purcell said.

Steven Stamkos added two goals and one assist for the Lightning, who had won five in a row before the long slide.

Alex Killorn picked up his initial NHL tally and Teddy Purcell also scored to back 25 saves by Anders Lindback.

"We never quit. That's never a question and never will be a question and we showed it again tonight," said Stamkos. "We finally got a bounce our way on the overtime goal. Hopefully, this sparks some momentum and will help us moving forward."

Islanders face quick turnaround vs. Senators

(Sports Network) - Thankfully the New York Islanders won't have much time to dwell on their latest loss, as they start a three-game road trip tonight against the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place.

Ottawa snapped a two-game losing streak with a shootout win in New Jersey on Monday, as they topped the Devils, 2-1.

After the first three shooters came up empty, Jacob Silfverberg skated in and ripped a wrister high over the glove of New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur.

Bobby Butler had a chance to keep the Devils alive at the other end, but his wrister missed the net and the Senators escaped with the victory.

Silfverberg added an assist on Daniel Alfredsson's game-tying goal in the third period, while Ben Bishop stopped 30-of-31 shots and all three shooters in the shootout to help Ottawa win for only the second time in its last six tries.

"I thought Ben Bishop played very well for us in the first period to keep it 1-0," Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said. "After that I thought we came out and played hard and deserved the points."

The Senators, of course, are playing without their top-3 scorers from last season in Jason Spezza (back surgery) and Erik Karlsson (Achilles), both of whom are out for the season, and Milan Michalek, who has been sidelined since Thursday with a knee injury.

"We were a little down," said Silfverberg. "We have a lot of young guys on our team, so this was big for our confidence. We've lost a couple of key players this year."

Ottawa has won three straight, five of eight and nine of its last 13 meetings with the Islanders. The Isles have also dropped five of seven in Ottawa.

The Senators are 10-2-2 in the last 14 home matchups with New York.

New York, meanwhile, was routed at home by the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday, falling 7-0.

Evgeni Nabokov allowed all seven goals on 25 shots for New York, which saw its two-game winning streak come to an abrupt end. Since beginning the year 4-2-1, the Islanders have now lost six of eight.

"Our battle level was nowhere near where it had to be," coach Jack Capuano said. "We have to find better ways to find it. We have to generate more."

It's unclear if Capuano will stick with Nabokov on Tuesday or turn to oft- injured backup Rick DiPioetro. Nabokov has lost five of his last eight starts and has posted a 3.22 goals against average in that span.

DiPietro, though, is 0-2-0 with a 4.62 GAA and hasn't faced the Senators since 2008.

The Islanders, who will also make stops in Montreal and Buffalo on this trip, have posted a 4-2-1 mark away from home this season.

Toews and Sedin (Photo: Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
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