The Vancouver Canucks own the best home record in the league, but they won’t be able to win - or lose - on their home ice until it’s nearly springtime.
The Canucks begin an NHL-record stretch of 14 consecutive road games Saturday night when they face the slumping Toronto Maple Leafs.
Vancouver (33-18-2) improved to 23-7-1 at GM Place after sweeping a four-game homestand. The Canucks extended their overall winning streak to six with Wednesday’s 3-2 victory over St. Louis.
“We definitely wanted to finish on a winning note,” said Roberto Luongo(notes), who made 25 saves to win his sixth consecutive start. with a 1.99 goals-against average. “We’re not going to be playing here for a while so it was important. It’s obviously a huge win before we head out.”
They’ll be heading out for a long time. The Canucks play their next 14 games on the road, broken up into eight- and six-game trips while Vancouver hosts the Olympics in between. They won’t play at GM Place again until facing Ottawa on March 13.
Vancouver has outscored opponents 24-12 during its winning streak, and its 3.23 goals per game overall ranks third in the NHL. However, the Canucks are averaging just 2.77 goals on the road, where they’re 10-11-1.
Their top line of Henrik and Daniel Sedin(notes) and Alex Burrows(notes) has combined for 61 of the team’s 171 goals, but failed to record a point Wednesday for the first time in 13 games. It didn’t matter. Second-line center Ryan Kesler(notes) assisted on all three goals, with linemate Mason Raymond(notes) scoring twice. Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff(notes) netted the eventual winner with 7:48 to play.
“That’s part of winning consistently. You need secondary scoring to chip in,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said.
The second line was also key in a 3-1 home win over Toronto (17-27-11) on Oct. 24, as Raymond scored a pair with Kesler getting the other goal.
The Canucks have won five in a row against Toronto, and Luongo has posted a 1.47 GAA while beating the Leafs all four times he’s faced them since joining Vancouver in 2006-07.
The Maple Leafs have dropped five straight overall, as their penalty-killing unit has given up six goals on 21 chances.
That issue was at the forefront again Friday, as Vesa Toskala(notes) gave up a power-play goal to Travis Zajac(notes) with 46 seconds left in overtime as Toronto fell 5-4 at New Jersey. The Leafs salvaged a point after Alexei Ponikarovsky(notes) and Matt Stajan(notes) scored in the third period to erase a two-goal deficit.
“We just didn’t get the job done on the penalty kill and we didn’t get a save,” coach Ron Wilson told the team’s official Web site. “We found a way to battle back and get a point and I was confident that we could get it to a shootout and get another point but we didn’t get a chance to get there.”
Stajan has three goals and one assist over his last six games, giving him 38 points - second on the team to Tomas Kaberle’s(notes) 42. The center has two goals and one assist in his last three games against Vancouver, which has four players with more points than Kaberle.