The Canucks try to avoid a fourth loss in five games Thursday night in their only meeting of the season with the punchless Panthers.
Vancouver (35-21-2) entered an NHL-record stretch of 14 consecutive road games in strong fashion, winning six in a row by outscoring opponents 21-10.
The Canucks continued that momentum by opening their road swing with a 5-3 victory over Toronto on Jan. 30. However, they’ve since lost three of four, including Tuesday’s 3-1 defeat at Tampa Bay.
“We played a pretty good game,” left wing Daniel Sedin(notes) said. “It was a step in the right direction. When you’re in a tough stretch like this, you’ve got to play good defensively and make the simple play.”
Scoring has suddenly become an issue for Vancouver, among the league leaders with 185 goals. The Canucks have totaled four goals in the three defeats on this trip, and their only victory in February was Saturday’s 3-2 shootout win at Boston.
The Canucks’ top line of Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin(notes) and Alex Burrows(notes) has accounted for no goals and one assist in the last four games after powering the club’s 14-2-2 run by totaling 34 goals and 57 assists.
Henrik Sedin’s four-game scoring drought is a season high, but he still ranks among the league leaders with 78 points and his 25 goals tie him with Burrows for the team lead.
Daniel Sedin, second on the team with 52 points, has been held off the scoresheet for three games in a row.
They might have a good opportunity to end those droughts against the Panthers (24-26-9), losers of four in a row while getting outscored 13-4. Their opponents are 5 for 14 on the power play in that span, and Vancouver has one of the league’s top units with a 21.4 percent success rate.
After facing Florida, the Canucks visit Columbus on Friday before facing Minnesota two days later in their final contest before the NHL takes a two-week break for the Olympics in Vancouver. The first of the remaining six games on this road stretch will be March 2 against the Blue Jackets.
These teams haven’t met since the Canucks beat the Panthers 5-3 on Dec. 14, 2008. Vancouver’s only road game against Florida since 2002 also marks its only defeat in the last nine meetings overall - 4-3 in a shootout Feb. 1, 2008.
Florida is seeking to avoid matching its season-high five-game slide from Nov. 23-30 after falling 4-1 at Carolina on Tuesday. The Panthers have been held to two goals or less in 11 consecutive games (4-6-1), and their 153 goals rank toward the bottom of the NHL.
“We’re in a tough stretch,” coach Peter DeBoer said. “You have to keep working until you get it. That’s the key to this league - the lows can’t be low, and the highs can’t be too high. We’re in a low part and we have to fight our way out of it.”
Stephen Weiss(notes), the team leader with 20 goals and 47 points, has scored twice in 19 games. Fellow center Steven Reinprecht(notes) is pointless in 11 straight and winger Rostislav Olesz(notes) has gone 10 in a row without one.
“You can’t have five or six of your top eight or nine forwards go 10, 15, 20 games with only a goal or two,” DeBoer said. “You’re not going to win in this league with that.”