The Vancouver Canucks aren’t thrilled with their inconsistent play over the past month, but they have enough of a cushion in the standings so that it hasn’t become a major problem yet.
The Anaheim Ducks don’t have the same luxury.
The Ducks will try to earn a fourth straight win Sunday night when they host the NHL-leading Canucks.
Beginning with a 4-3 home defeat to Anaheim on Feb. 9, Vancouver (41-16-9) has alternated losses with wins in its last 12 games. The Canucks, however, remain in the lead for the Presidents’ Trophy and hold a 14-point lead over Calgary in the Northwest Division.
They hope their latest performance will help them get back on track.
Vancouver scored three unanswered goals Saturday during a 3-1 win at Los Angeles. Daniel Sedin(notes) scored the go-ahead tally with 8:24 remaining, and Roberto Luongo(notes) stopped 21 shots in his 300th career win.
“It’s tough to go full-throttle for 82 games,” said Luongo, the 25th goalie - and sixth-youngest - to reach that milestone. “Obviously we feel that we’re not playing our best hockey right now, but we’re still a .500 team, and that says a bit about our group in the locker room. We just need to get ourselves in gear and realize that obviously there are going to be games like (Saturday), a lot down the stretch here, and we just have to find ways to win.”
The Ducks (35-25-5) have done just that by claiming three straight one-goal victories - the last two in overtime - after an 0-4-1 slump. Defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky(notes) assisted on Teemu Selanne’s(notes) tying goal with 1:03 left in regulation Friday, then completed his second career hat trick in the extra session of a 4-3 win over fellow playoff contender Dallas on Friday.
“It was a lucky night for me,” Visnovsky said. “We were down by two goals and the team showed character. The confidence is going up for everybody.”
Every game is vital for Anaheim, which is among a logjam of seven teams separated by three points for the final four playoff spots in the West.
Vancouver would appear to be a daunting matchup, but the Ducks have earned at least a point the last six times the Canucks have visited (4-0-2). The Ducks are 2-0-1 in the season series.
Meanwhile, the Canucks are seeking to win at Los Angeles and Anaheim on consecutive days for the first time since Oct. 30 and 31, 2008.
Sedin had a goal and an assist at the Honda Center on Oct. 13, but it was not enough as Ryan Getzlaf(notes) tied his season high for points with a goal and three assists in another 4-3 victory for the Ducks.
The Anaheim captain has four goals and 12 assists in his last 12 games against Vancouver, and three goals and 12 assists in 11 games since returning from nasal sinus fractures in time for the Feb. 9 matchup.