Canucks look to Naslund for inspiration
For two teams that rarely see each other, the Vancouver Canucks and the Tampa Bay Lightning have used similar mechanisms for success this season: strong special-teams play.
When the Lightning visit Vancouver on Markus Naslund Night on Saturday (CBC Sports, CBCSports.ca, 10 p.m. ET) for their first tilt since Feb. 9, both squads will be hoping to draw inspiration from their ability to play with a man down and with an extra attacker.
Vancouver will also be looking to the rafters for an emotional kick-start as Naslund, a former team captain and a 12-year Canuck, will have his famous No. 19 retired before the game in a special ceremony.
Log onto CBCSports.ca at 9:10 pm ET on Saturday to watch our live stream as the Vancouver Canucks honour former captain Markus Naslund by retiring his No. 19 jersey during a special pre-game ceremony.
As for Naslund's former team, they haven't exactly had a problem scoring this season, especially when they've been a man up.
The Canucks sport the league's most dangerous power play (25 per cent conversion) on the strength of forward Daniel Sedin's eight goals with the man advantage, which ties him for second place in the NHL with Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby.
Tampa Bay has seen a similar success rate, as its power play ranks fourth in the NHL (23.1 per cent). Super sniper Steven Stamkos has had his hand in 20 of Tampa Bay's league-leading 29 power play goals (10 goals, 10 assists).
While the numbers seem similar, there is a glaring difference between their power-play attacks: the Canucks have given up only one short-handed marker while the Lightning have surrendered a league-worst six.
These squads share an equally impressive penalty-kill success rate: the Canucks boast the fourth-best unit in the NHL (87 per cent), and their Sunshine State counterparts rank ninth (84.4).
As hot as its special-teams play has been, Vancouver has been rolling along as well, having won five of its past six games on the heels of a four-game losing streak, including a 5-4 third-period comeback victory against the Anaheim Ducks on Dec. 8.
Tampa Bay, on the other hand, has only won two of its past seven games, and is coming off a 4-3 shootout loss to the Edmonton Oilers Friday night.
Players to watch
Vancouver's Daniel Sedin — The Swedish sniper has been as hot as Steven Stamkos has been cold, currently riding a six-game point streak (three goals, five assists). Look for the 30-year-old to take advantage of Tampa's weak goaltending tandem of Dan Ellis and Mike Smith.
Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos — The 20-year-old's goal-scoring drought started six games ago, and his team needs him to step it up if they have a shot at coming out victorious. Tampa Bay holds an 11-3-1 record when the youngster scores this season but he has only two assists during his slump.
Vancouver - Right-winger Mikael Samuelsson (mild concussion, day-to-day), defenceman Andrew Alberts (flu, day-to-day), right-winger Guillaume Desbiens (broken right hand, IR), defenceman Sami Salo (torn Achilles tendon, IR), left-winger Mason Raymond (broken left thumb, week-to-week), defenceman Christian Ehrhoff (head injury).
Tampa Bay — Right-winger Steve Downie (High ankle sprain, IR), centre Vincent Lecavalier (broken hand, IR)
What they said
"My teammates bailed me out with two goals in the third. We haven't come back from behind once in the third period at all this year, so we were due for one." — Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo, after his squad mounted a third-period comeback against the Ducks on Dec. 8.
"We haven't been really generating a lot of power plays, especially on the road. It's something that obviously is part of our game plan that we're not doing. We're not getting first on the puck. We're not forcing them to take penalties. That's costing us by not getting on the power play that much." — Lightning forward Steven Stamkos after a 4-2 loss to the Calgary Flames on Dec. 7.