(SportsNetwork.com) – The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to close out a three-
game road trip with a perfect record when they visit the Vancouver Canucks for
Saturday’s battle at Rogers Arena.
The Penguins are 2-0 on the swing after picking up a pair of shutout victories
in Edmonton and Calgary. Marc-Andre Fleury was in net for both wins, bringing
his league-leading shutout total to eight.
Fleury stopped 21 shots in Friday’s 4-0 win over the Flames and set a
franchise record for most shutouts in a season, surpassing the mark set by Tom
Barrasso in the 1997-98 season. Fleury also owns the team record with 36
Sidney Crosby had two goals and an assist to lead Pittsburgh’s offense, while
David Perron added a goal and an assist. Brandon Sutter also scored and Chris
Kunitz notched three assists.
“I thought it was a steady game from start to finish,” said Pittsburgh head
coach Mike Johnston. “I didn’t think we had any ups and downs in the game.
Still watching Calgary play, and playing against them tonight, they’re a good
The victory moved Pittsburgh one point ahead of the idle New York Islanders
for first place in the Metropolitan Division. The Isles play tonight in
Pens backup goaltender Thomas Greiss will start Saturday’s game. He suffered a
regulation loss in his only career outing against the Canucks.
The Canucks hope to get back on track tonight after losing two of three and
four of their last six games.
Despite the rough patch, Vancouver is still holding onto the last playoff spot
in the West, but the Colorado Avalanche are only four points behind. The
Canucks also trail Calgary by just two points for the third and final
automatic postseason berth from the Pacific Division.
Vancouver has a 2-3-0 mark on a six-game homestand that ends tonight. The club
was last in action on Thursday when it fell 5-1 to the San Jose Sharks.
The Canucks were nearly shut out by Antti Niemi, who made 33 saves, but Radim
Vrbata provided a late goal — his 20th of the season — for the home club.
Ryan Miller allowed all five goals on 38 shots for Vancouver.
“We’ve got a lot of tough hockey ahead of us,” Vancouver head coach Willie
Desjardins said. “It’s up to us to be ready. One line played well tonight,
others have to take that on.”
After wrapping a homestand tonight, Vancouver will close February by playing
eight of 10 away from home. The road-heavy stretch kicks off with a two-game
trip, which begins Monday in Minnesota.
Canucks defenseman Christopher Tanev was out of the lineup with an
undisclosed injury and fellow blueliner Frank Corrado missed a second straight
game with an illness. Both players are expected to miss tonight, while forward
Zack Kassian is questionable with an undisclosed injury.
It’s unclear if Miller will start in net tonight. The veteran is 7-13-3 with a
3.28 goals against average over 25 career outings against Pittsburgh.
The Canucks halted a four-game losing streak in the series with Pittsburgh
earlier this season, notching a 3-0 win in the Steel City on Dec. 4 behind a
22-save performance from backup goaltender Eddie Lack.
Pittsburgh has claimed two straight and three of the last four meetings in