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Jan 14, 2024 3:01 pm

High-octane Canucks look to jolt Jackets in finale of road trip

The Vancouver Canucks look to conclude their stellar seven-game road trip with a sixth consecutive victory on Monday when they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets.

After beginning their trek with a 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Jan. 4, the Canucks’ subsequent five-game win streak has left them tied for the NHL lead in road points (32). A win on Monday would tie for the fourth-longest road winning streak in Canucks franchise history.

The success hasn’t been easily earned, as the Canucks eked out one-goal wins in each of their last two games. Vancouver collected a 4-3 overtime win against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday and a 1-0 shutout of the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.

Vancouver had only 23 shots against the Sabres, and it was the first time in six games (1-4-1) this season that the NHL’s highest-scoring team won when scoring one or fewer goals.

“I just think it shows we can win games different ways, which is really important here down the stretch,” said the Canucks’ Sam Lafferty, who scored the game’s only goal on Saturday. “Games are going to get harder and harder. Some games might be high scoring, some games are going to be like this, so it’s good to know we can play any style.”

Perhaps the only thing that might halt the Canucks on this road trip is weather. Due to the huge winter storm hitting Buffalo and most of the Great Lakes region on Sunday, the Canucks weren’t able to fly to Columbus on Saturday night. The team hopes to make the trip Sunday, yet the NHL could issue a postponement.

The Blue Jackets might appreciate the extra time to regroup after Saturday’s 7-4 home loss to the Seattle Kraken. Columbus held three one-goal leads only for the Kraken to equalize every time, and Seattle then pulled ahead in the second period.

“In the second (period) overall as a team, we tried to do a little bit too much,” defenseman Ivan Provorov said. “Got away from what was working for us in the first. … Afterwards, we pushed hard, but sometimes when you try to come from behind things don’t always work out.”

Columbus is winless (0-2-1) in three games and 2-4-4 in its last 10 games, with no regulation victories in that stretch.

The seven goals allowed against Seattle matched the Blue Jackets’ season high in a game. The Jackets are among the NHL’s worst in goals allowed and shots allowed, which doesn’t bode well against the potent Vancouver offense.

Elvis Merzlikins has been the subject of trade rumors, and the goaltender hasn’t played in the Blue Jackets’ last six games. If Merzlikins continues to sit, Daniil Tarasov or former Canuck backup goalie Spencer Martin will get the start on Monday.

Thatcher Demko stopped all 26 Buffalo shots to post his fourth shutout of the season. The Canucks might opt to give the star goalie a break and instead start backup Casey DeSmith, who has played in only one of Vancouver’s last seven games.

J.T. Miller leads the Canucks with 58 points (19 goals, 39 assists). Johnny Gaudreau leads the Blue Jackets with 26 points (seven goals, 19 assists).

–Field Level Media

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