Canucks visit Avs in Northwest clash

The Vancouver Canucks went into their five-game road swing with a 16-game point streak, but they’ve been shut out twice in the first four games.

There’s still good reason to believe they can end the trip on a high note.

The Canucks have gone 8-0-1 in their last nine against the Colorado Avalanche, a streak they’ll look to extend Tuesday night at the Pepsi Center as the Northwest Division’s top teams square off.

Watch the game live on Sportsnet Pacific at 6 p.m. PT.

Vancouver (29-10-6) began the trip having gone 13-0-3 in its last 16 games, and opened the road stretch by beating the New York Islanders 4-3 in a shootout last Tuesday. Sandwiched around a 4-2 win over Washington on Friday, however, were two ugly performances.

The Canucks lost 1-0 to the Rangers on Thursday, then fell 4-0 to Minnesota on Sunday.

“We didn’t help ourselves at all, that’s kind of what it came down to,” defenseman Keith Ballard told the Canucks’ official website after the loss to the Wild.

Vancouver has lost two of three against Minnesota, but is 10-0-0 against the rest of the division, including 4-0 versus Colorado (23-16-6). The Canucks have outscored the Avs 38-17 in the last nine meetings, the only loss coming in a shootout April 6.

Henrik and Daniel Sedin have combined for nine goals and 13 assists in that stretch, but the Canucks’ other big contributor is a surprise. Mason Raymond has four goals and seven assists in his last nine against Colorado, producing at least a point in all but one contest.

Raymond, however, has been one of Vancouver’s underachieving forwards of late. He doesn’t have a point in six games.


Fantasy Notes: Alexandre Burrows has 2-5-7 in 9 GP this month and 14 points in 33 GP vs. COL over his career. Matt Duchene has 24 points in 23 home games this season and 5-1-6 in 10 GP vs. VAN. | Follow Chris Nichols on Twitter


Henrik Sedin’s three-game stretch without a point is considerably more unexpected. The NHL assist leader with 46, Sedin is in the midst of his longest point drought since going scoreless for four games Feb. 2-9.

“Yes, we do have a couple of guys right now that offensively, we all feel and they feel for sure that they can contribute and play better, and I think that’s a good sign,” coach Alain Vigneault said.

“We’ve been winning hockey games and we’ve still got room for improvement and that’s what we’ve been talking about since day one of the year.”

Vancouver also has some injury issues. Defensemen Aaron Rome (sprained MCL) and Andrew Alberts (sprained ACL) are expected to miss two weeks, while center Alexandre Bolduc (shoulder) is out for a month or more.

Forward Sergei Shirokov and defenseman Chris Tanev have been recalled from Manitoba.

While the Canucks couldn’t solve Minnesota on Sunday, Colorado did two nights earlier. Kevin Porter, Milan Hejduk and Tomas Fleischmann scored the game’s first three goals as the Avalanche rolled to a 4-1 victory.

Not everything went well in St. Paul. Center Ryan O’Reilly had to be immobilized after going hard into the boards, leaving him with a shoulder injury that will keep him out for at least two weeks.

“You’ve got to find a way to pick him up,” said goaltender Craig Anderson, who won for the first time in regulation since Dec. 19. “It was our job and our duty to win the game for him.”

Despite losing O’Reilly, there were positive developments regarding a few serious injuries. Forward Chris Stewart returned Friday after missing 21 games because of a fractured hand, and defenseman Kyle Cumiskey – who hasn’t played since suffering a concussion Oct. 30 – could be back Tuesday.