Canucks-Avalanche Preview

The Associated Press

Following a lackluster effort to close out a long homestand, the Vancouver Canucks could turn things around very quickly against a team that hasn't scored against them in nearly a year.

The Canucks look to extend their lengthy shutout streak over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday afternoon at the Pepsi Center.

Vancouver (31-15-5) begins a four-game road trip looking to increase its 10-point lead in the Northwest Division over Minnesota, the biggest advantage among the six division leaders.

Facing Colorado (26-25-2) could provide a positive start to a swing highlighted by three matchups with Northwest rivals. Vancouver won 3-0 on Nov. 23 in Denver and 6-0 at home over the Avalanche on Dec. 6.

The Canucks haven't given up a goal to Colorado in 167 minutes, 13 seconds since Matt Duchene scored midway through the first period of the Avs' 4-2 loss on March 16. Duchene has been out since Dec. 30 with a knee injury, and the Avalanche have gone 6-7-1 without him.

Vancouver split its six-game homestand after losing 4-3 in a shootout to Detroit on Thursday in a battle between the Western Conference's top two clubs. Roberto Luongo stopped 40 shots but allowed two goals in the tiebreaker.

"We got taken to school," said coach Alain Vigneault, whose team fell to 3-0-5 in shootouts. "It was obvious to everybody. Obviously, we can play a lot better. That's no secret to anybody that knows our team."

Though Luongo is 20-10-5 with a 2.41 goals-against average, he may be watching Cory Schneider start in net Saturday.

Schneider stopped 24 shots against Colorado in November and combined with Luongo to make 33 saves in the December meeting. Schneider has won his last four starts to improve to 11-5-0 with a 2.28 GAA.

Daniel Sedin had a hat trick - all off assists from twin brother Henrik - to help beat the Avs in December. They were held without a point in the first matchup.

Colorado dropped its season-high fourth straight after falling 1-0 to Minnesota on Thursday despite a 37-21 shots advantage.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere gave up the game's only goal early in the first period as the Avalanche were blanked for the eighth time.

Colorado is outside the top eight in the West for a playoff berth but sits only three points behind the Wild for the final spot.

"We have to stay positive because if we play more games like this, we're going to win more games than we lose," said Giguere, whose playing time against the Canucks this season has been limited to just over 10 minutes in place of Semyon Varlamov during the December matchup.

Varlamov is 0-2-0 with a 4.39 GAA versus the Canucks this season, stopping 41 of 49 shots. He's surrendered 13 goals while losing each of his last three starts.

Giguere hasn't fared much better when facing the Canucks in recent years. He's 0-3-0 with a 4.29 GAA in five games, including four starts, since defeating them March 11, 2007, while with Anaheim.

The Avs are 1 for 9 with the man advantage during their skid. They've failed to score on nine power-play chances versus Vancouver in 2011-12.

Colorado coach Joe Sacco needs one win for 100 in his career.

What to Read Next