The Vancouver Canucks have been setting franchise records while vaulting to the top of the Western Conference standings.
That hasn’t been enough to create a wide separation from the Detroit Red Wings.
Vancouver looks for its ninth straight victory Saturday night when it welcomes Detroit, which trails the Canucks by just two points.
The Canucks (27-8-5) set a club record by going unbeaten in regulation for the 15th straight game Friday with a 6-1 rout of Edmonton. Vancouver’s 17-1-2 mark is the best 20-game stretch in franchise history.
Vancouver hasn’t had a nine-game winning streak since a franchise-record 10 straight from Nov. 9-30, 2002.
Cory Schneider(notes) made 23 saves, and improved to 8-0-2 with a 2.77 goals-against average this season, but Roberto Luongo(notes) almost certainly will start this contest. Luongo—1-0-1 with a 4.40 GAA against Detroit this season— is 3-4-1 with a 3.01 GAA in eight home starts versus the Red Wings since joining Vancouver in 2006.
The only loss for Vancouver in its last 13 games was a 5-4 overtime defeat against the Red Wings on Dec. 22. Nicklas Lidstrom(notes) knotted the score at 4 with 3:54 to play before Henrik Zetterberg(notes) scored the winner.
(Saturday is) going to be a good game,” Kesler told the Canucks’ official website. “…They’ve always been a good team and we’re going to matchup as best we can against them.”
Zetterberg has five goals and six assists in a six-game points streak against Vancouver.
The Red Wings (26-10-5) have kept pace with the Canucks, going 5-1-1 over the last seven, including a 5-4 shootout win over Calgary on Friday.
Brian Rafalski’s(notes) second goal of the game made it 4-4 midway through the third period, and former Flame Todd Bertuzzi(notes) scored the only goal in the tiebreaker. Jimmy Howard(notes) finished with 35 saves, including six in overtime.
“We kept ourselves in it,” Rafalski said. “We gave ourselves a chance and we were able to get that fourth one, and battled through overtime.”
Detroit has won five of the last seven against Vancouver, and a regulation victory would tie the teams atop the NHL standings.
“They’re playing well right now so it’s going to be a big game, obviously, if you look at the standings,” Rafalski said.