The Vancouver Canucks (21-11-6) will look to continue their December dominance as they visit the Winnipeg Jets (16-16-5), who will try to build on a big win two nights before.
The Canucks and Jets both won their respective games on Friday night, with Vancouver out-lasting the NHL-best Chicago Blackhawks in a long shootout, and the Jets claiming their first home win in a month over the Florida Panthers in a 5-2 final. The Canucks have lost only one game in their 10 so far this December, but have picked up points in every game in the month. The Jets have gone 4-3-1 in that span, including dropping a 4-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres less than a week ago. The Jets and Canucks have only played one game against each other, with Vancouver edging out a 3-2 victory at home on March 8, 2012.
The Jets will see starter Ondrej Pavelec in net for the second straight game. Pavelec made 21 saves in the Jets’ win against the Panthers on Friday, bringing his GAA to 2.86 and his save percentage to .908% on the season. At the other end will be Canucks’ starter Roberto Luongo, who has put up a .919% save percentage, and 2.26 GAA in a NHL-leading 31 appearances this season.
The Jets celebrated the return of defenseman Zach Bogosian to the lineup on Friday, after missing 15 games with a groin injury. Winnipeg will still be missing Matt Halischuk, Jim Slater, and Paul Postma, who are all on the Injured Reserve with no immediate return pending. The Canucks will be without Ryan Stanton, who could miss “Multiple weeks” after suffering an ankle injury on Tuesday. There are a trio of Canucks on the IR: Alexander Edler (Knee), Alexandre Burrows (Jaw) and Jordan Schroeder (Ankle).
The Jets’ power-play has scored six goals in their last six games, a 20% clip in the month of December, after being ranked 2nd-last in the NHL in that category at one point. Vancouver’s penalty-kill is the best in the league at 90.2%, so keeping the man-advantage hot will be a struggle for the Jets.
Blake Wheeler has redeemed himself after a so-so start to the season, scoring 7 goals and 9 points in 9 games this December. Wheeler scored the game-tying goal against the Canucks in their only meeting as a Jet.
The Jets are .500% on the road this season, at 8-8-1, and have not fared well against their Western Conference opponents, with a 6-12-4 record. The Canucks have been solid at home (8-5-1), and have a 9-7-4 record against their fellow Western Conference teams.
You can watch Sunday’s game on TSN Jets, or listen live on TSN 1290 radio. Non-regional viewers can see the game on Sportsnet Pacific. The game gets underway from the Rogers Centre at 7:00 PM Central time.
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