While the Vancouver Canucks are off to the best start in franchise history, the struggling Ottawa Senators aim to build on a much-needed victory.
The Canucks try to extend their winning streak to five games while looking to hand the Senators a fifth consecutive home defeat on Thursday night.
After firing a coach each of the last two seasons and making just one playoff appearance in the previous eight seasons, Vancouver might finally be headed in the right direction as a franchise. At 9-2-1, the Canucks are off to their best-ever 12-game start, have the second-most points in the Western Conference and are 7-0-1 in their last eight games.
“I’ve been really impressed with our group as far as staying the course day in, day out,” said Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko, who made a season-high 41 saves during Monday’s 6-2 win over Edmonton to improve to 7-2-0 with a 1.61 goals-against average and .948 save percentage in 2023-24.
“Not taking our foot off the gas . . . it’s going to be important for us in an 82-game schedule,” he added.
The Canucks have outscored their opponents 54-24, made good on 32.6 percent of their power plays and held opponents to just 19.2 percent (5-for-26) in chances with the man advantage over the last eight contests.
Vancouver last earned a point in at least nine straight games during the 2021-22 season.
“It’s a full team effort,” said star defenseman Quinn Hughes, who has totaled 12 of his 20 points in the last four games.
Hughes has a goal and 15 assists in 15 career games versus Ottawa. Meanwhile, teammate Elias Pettersson, who has a team-high 21 points (six goals, 15 assists), has seven goals with eight assists in 11 games against the Senators.
Demko owns a 2.29 goals-against average while winning seven of his 10 starts versus Ottawa. However, backup Casey DeSmith could get the start Thursday, despite his 3.26 GAA in three starts this season.
Vancouver has totaled 20 goals during a 3-0-1 stretch against the Senators, who won for just the second time in seven games, 6-3 at Toronto on Wednesday. Claude Giroux had two goals with an assist, Tim Stutzle recorded a goal with three assists and Dominik Kubalik scored twice for Ottawa, which last won consecutive contests during a three-game run from Oct. 14-18.
They’ll also try to quell rumors about coach D.J. Smith’s job security while turning things around at home, where they outscored opponents 16-5 while starting 3-0-0 there, but have been outscored 20-12 in losing four straight since then.
“In the (dressing) room, guys care a lot, and I don’t think we’re a team that’s going to quit or stop working hard,” Giroux, who has four goals with five assists during a five-game point streak, said after the game.
Giroux has three goals and two assists during his last four games versus Vancouver.
After Ottawa’s Joonas Korpisalo stopped 27 shots on Wednesday for his third win, teammate Anton Forsberg (3.42 goals-against average) could make his fourth start of the season, and first since Oct. 24. Forsberg has yielded eight goals on 35 shots faced in his last two appearances for the Senators.
–Field Level Media