Canucks Garland, Penguins Crosby

Canucks Game Day 42: Red Hot VAN Vs. ‘Sid The 36-Year-Old’

Canucks Game Facts

This Evening: Vancouver Canucks at Pittsburgh Penguins

Where: PPG Paints Arena

When: 4 pm pacific

TV/Radio: Sportsnet / AM-650

Key Factors:

Starting goalkeepers: Thatcher Demko for Vancouver, Alex Nedeljkovic for Pittsburgh.

It’s the third game in four nights for the Canucks after they beat the New York Rangers and Islanders on back-to-back evenings on Monday and Tuesday. Goalie Casey DeSmith started the second game and picked up the win for Vancouver.

Demko made 39 saves in the win over the Rangers. He’s third in the NHL with three shut-outs and tenth in save percentage at .916.

The Canucks enter with 57 points, tied for 2nd most in the NHL and with a six point lead over the slip sliding Vegas Golden Knights for 1st place in the Pacific Division. Vancouver has the best goal differential in the league at plus-53.

Despite the fact their special teams haven’t been clicking lately, the Canucks continue to roll; winners of three games in a row and seven of their last ten.

The Penguins are tied with two other clubs in the Metropolitan Division with 44 points and are in the heart of the Eastern Conference wild card race. The headliner Sidney Crosby is the second leading scorer on the team with 41 points in 39 games. He’s pointless in his last two games after picking up five over the previous two.

All Pittsburgh regulars are healthy.

Who’s Hot? And Not …

Speaking of hot and not and starting with the road team; Elias Pettersson continues to light things up for the Canucks. He tallied a goal against the Isles after having a four point night against the Rangers and a three-pointer versus the Devils.

Conor Garland had two assists on the Island and is averaging a point-a-game over his last four.

Centre J.T. Miller has five points over his last three games and stands tied for 6th in NHL scoring with 55 points. Pettersson is right behind him with 53 while Canucks captain and top defenceman Quinn Hughes is tied for 10th in overall league scoring and has the most of any blueliner (51).

Winger Andrei Kuzmenko played 15:39 on Tuesday night with one shot-on-goal. He’s pointless in his last five games.

Geno Malkin had a goal and an assist four nights ago in Pittsburgh’s win over the Philadelphia Flyers and is averaging a point-a-game over his last four.

Jake Guentzel is the club’s leading scorer with 44 points and also has four over his last four games.

D-man Erik Karlsson, the reigning Norris Trophy winner, has five points over those same four games.

Penguins winger Reilly Smith is pointless in his last five.

Special Teams

The Canucks power play is 0-for-6 in its last half-dozen chances, but that’s spread out over the last four games. The penalty kill gave up a single goal to both the Rangers and Islanders with each of those teams having two attempts.

Vancouver still touts an impressive 23.1% success rate on the PP for the season, but a less than adequate 77.5% number on the penalty kill.

The Penguins are used to having a better power play than 14.7%, but that’s where they stand on the season after posting a 1-for-6 night against the Flyers on Monday. The PK is a solid 82.5% through 39 games.

Coming In:

Canucks: 27-11-and-3, 1st place in the Pacific Division, coming off a 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Tuesday night.

Penguins: 20-15-4, tied for 5th place in the Metro Division, following a 4-1 road victory over Philadelphia on Monday.

Recent Canucks:

— Simmer’s Sunday 9: Canucks, Kraken, Includes Bruce Boudreau Podcast Link

Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.