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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, February 8th (All times Eastern)

Vancouver Canucks (27-23-9) at Toronto Maple Leafs (31-22-6), 6 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The free-falling Vancouver Canucks have one last chance to end a lengthy slide before the Olympic break, as they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday in the final day of NHL action before the 2014 Sochi Games.

The Canucks have lost six straight games in regulation, marking the first time the club has suffered through an 0-6 stretch since March 13-25, 1999. Vancouver last lost seven straight in regulation during the same season, going 0-7 from Dec. 26-Jan. 6 during the 1998-99 campaign.

Vancouver hasn't had a seven-game slide of any kind since an eight-game losing streak (0-5-3) from Jan. 9-31, 2009.

The current slide began while head coach John Tortorella was serving a 15-day suspension, but the return of the fiery bench boss has done little to change things. Vancouver has lost three straight since the coach finished his league- mandated ban for trying to start in altercation with Calgary head coach Bob Hartley on Jan. 18.

The slide has dropped Vancouver out of the eighth spot in the Western Conference, as Phoenix took over possession of the conference's final playoff berth with a win over Chicago on Friday. The Canucks are one point in back of the Coyotes in ninth place.

Phoenix visits Dallas on Saturday. The Stars are one point behind Vancouver in the West's 10th spot.

The Canucks have scored a total of three goals since Tortorella's return and two of those markers came in Thursday's 5-2 loss in Montreal. Max Pacioretty registered a hat trick to lead the Canadiens to the lopsided home win at the Bell Centre.

Chris Higgins and Alexander Edler scored one goal apiece for the Canucks, while Roberto Luongo allowed four goals on 28 shots in the setback.

Vancouver trailed 2-0 after the first period, but was able to cut the deficit to one after Higgins scored a power-play goal at 2:31 of the second. The score remained 2-1 until Pacioretty notched his second marker of the game at 4:45 of the third.

"Their third goal was off a puck just sitting there and that surprised a lot of people around the net. That hurt us, we needed to tie the game up," said Tortorella.

Vancouver is closing a five-game road trip on Saturday and the club is just 13-14-4 as the visiting team this season. The Canucks will open their post- Olympic schedule on a three-game homestand, beginning with a matchup against St. Louis on Feb. 26.

The Canucks won't have captain Henrik Sedin tonight and the Swedish star will also miss the upcoming Olympic tournament in Sochi due to bruised ribs. Defenseman Dan Hamhuis also may miss a third straight game on Saturday with an upper-body injury.

Vancouver has one thing going in its favor on Saturday and that is the club's recent dominance over the Maple Leafs. The Canucks have won 11 straight in the series since Toronto last picked up a victory on Nov. 24, 2003 at Air Canada Centre. Vancouver has claimed five straight on the road since the Leafs won that meeting over a decade ago.

The Canucks earned a 4-0 win over a visiting Toronto club on Nov. 2 of this season as Luongo stopped 21 shots to record the shutout. Luongo is 14-6-0 with a 2.27 goals against average in his career against the Leafs.

While Vancouver attempts to halt an epic slide on Saturday, the Maple Leafs will try to head into the Olympic break by winning for the fifth time in six outings.

Toronto, which currently occupies the seventh seed in the East, rebounded from Tuesday's 4-1 loss at Florida by winning by the same score Thursday evening in Tampa. The Leafs scored three times in the third period to back a 31-save performance from Jonathan Bernier in the win over the Lightning at Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Jay McClement, James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak all lit the lamp during the final frame, with Phil Kessel assisting on two of the tallies to help the Leafs to a fourth win in five games.

"Outside of the first 10 minutes I thought we played a pretty solid game," Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle remarked. "We gave up some chances but we created some chances with our forecheck."

The Maple Leafs are four points ahead of eighth-seeded Detroit in the East and Carlyle's club also is tied for third place in the Atlantic Division with Montreal. However, the Canadiens, who are visiting Carolina on Saturday, hold the tiebreaker over Toronto due to having played on less game so far this season.

The top three teams in each division earn automatic bids to the postseason.

Toronto enters Saturday on a six-game home winning streak and the club hasn't lost at Air Canada Centre since Jan. 7 against the New York Islanders. The Leafs, who will visit the Islanders on Feb. 27 in their first game after the Olympics, boast a 20-10-1 record on home ice this season.

02/08 16:02:16 ET

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Schedule

Friday, April 18Full Scoreboard
Montreal 4/18 7:00 PM ET
Tampa Bay CNBC, CBC, RDS, FSN-FL
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game Two. Montreal leads series, 1-0.
Detroit 4/18 7:30 PM ET
Boston NBCSN, TSN, FSN-DET, NESN
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game One.
Dallas 4/18 10:00 PM ET
Anaheim NBCSN, TSN, FSN-SW
Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game Two. Anaheim leads series, 1-0.
Full Scoreboard

Standings

2013 - 2014 NHL Eastern Conference Standings
 
Atlantic Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
p-Boston 54 19 9 117 261 177 31-7-3 23-12-6 18-9-3
x-Tampa Bay 46 27 9 101 240 215 25-10-6 21-17-3 19-8-3
x-Montreal 46 28 8 100 215 204 23-13-5 23-15-3 18-8-4
x-Detroit 39 28 15 93 222 230 18-13-10 21-15-5 17-8-5
Ottawa 37 31 14 88 236 265 18-17-6 19-14-8 14-9-7
Toronto 38 36 8 84 231 256 24-16-1 14-20-7 14-13-3
Florida 29 45 8 66 196 268 16-20-5 13-25-3 13-16-1
Buffalo 21 51 10 52 157 248 13-21-7 8-30-3 7-18-5
 
Metropolitan Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
y-Pittsburgh 51 24 7 109 249 207 28-9-4 23-15-3 20-8-2
x-NY Rangers 45 31 6 96 218 193 20-17-4 25-14-2 16-11-3
x-Philadelphia 42 30 10 94 236 235 24-14-3 18-16-7 15-11-4
x-Columbus 43 32 7 93 231 216 22-15-4 21-17-3 16-13-1
Washington 38 30 14 90 235 240 21-13-7 17-17-7 12-15-3
New Jersey 35 29 18 88 197 208 21-11-9 14-18-9 16-9-5
Carolina 36 35 11 83 207 230 18-17-6 18-18-5 15-13-2
NY Islanders 34 37 11 79 225 267 13-19-9 21-18-2 10-16-4
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
z= clinched overall points title
2013 - 2014 NHL Western Conference Standings
 
Central Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
y-Colorado 52 22 8 112 250 220 26-11-4 26-11-4 19-6-3
x-St. Louis 52 23 7 111 248 191 28-9-4 24-14-3 21-6-2
x-Chicago 46 21 15 107 267 220 27-7-7 19-14-8 13-13-3
x-Minnesota 43 27 12 98 207 206 26-10-5 17-17-7 14-12-3
x-Dallas 40 31 11 91 235 228 23-11-7 17-20-4 13-11-5
Nashville 38 32 12 88 216 242 19-17-5 19-15-7 12-13-4
Winnipeg 37 35 10 84 227 237 18-17-6 19-18-4 9-15-5
 
Pacific Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
z-Anaheim 54 20 8 116 266 209 29-8-4 25-12-4 22-4-3
x-San Jose 51 22 9 111 249 200 29-7-5 22-15-4 18-7-3
x-Los Angeles 46 28 8 100 206 174 23-14-4 23-14-4 16-10-3
Phoenix 37 30 15 89 216 231 22-14-5 15-16-10 14-9-6
Vancouver 36 35 11 83 196 223 20-15-6 16-20-5 12-13-4
Calgary 35 40 7 77 209 241 19-19-3 16-21-4 11-15-3
Edmonton 29 44 9 67 203 270 16-22-3 13-22-6 8-17-4
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
z= clinched overall points title
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Scoreboard
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CIN 0
 
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7:05pm Tonight
CLE
TOR
7:08pm Tonight
DET
ANA
7:10pm Tonight
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ATL
7:10pm Tonight
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NYY
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8:05pm Tonight
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MIN
8:40pm Tonight
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PHI
10:05pm Tonight
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HOU
10:10pm Tonight
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ARI
10:10pm Tonight
SDP
SFG
7:00pm Tonight
TAM
MON
7:30pm Tonight
BOS
DET
10:00pm Tonight
ANA
DAL
7:05pm Tonight
NOR
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