The Vancouver Canucks are on a roll under new coach Bruce Boudreau and they will be striving for their seventh consecutive victory Saturday when they face the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs.
The game is slated for a full-capacity Rogers Arena before a 50-percent limit imposed by the provincial government takes effect Monday. The Canucks also have a home game Sunday night against the Arizona Coyotes.
The Canucks have not lost since Boudreau replaced Travis Green as coach on Dec. 5. They defeated the host San Jose Sharks 5-2 Thursday night to extend their winning streak to six.
The Maple Leafs have won two in a row, including a 5-1 victory over the host Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday. Toronto’s game Thursday was postponed because the host Calgary Flames are dealing with COVID-19 issues.
Brock Boeser scored twice for the Canucks on Thursday and has scored five goals during the winning streak to give him nine for the season.
“Feeling really confident, feel like I’m getting a lot of shots,” Boeser said. “We’re playing smart hockey and that’s a key to our success.
“Whenever you’re playing really good hockey with your linemates, it feeds into everything — your skating, how you’re moving around the ice. When you have that confidence, you feel good about getting those chances, getting that puck on your stick.”
Goaltender Thatcher Demko, who has played well all season, made 34 saves against the Sharks.
The Maple Leafs canceled their practice on Friday after two players tested positive for COVID-19 — captain John Tavares and Alex Kerfoot.
The team said that all players and traveling staff were tested Thursday, with the results revealed Friday. They are the first Leafs to test positive for the virus.
Jason Spezza will be eligible to return to the lineup on Saturday after his suspension for kneeing Winnipeg Jet defenseman Neal Pionk was reduced to four games from six.
The Maple Leafs used their practice on Thursday to work on transition and moving the puck quicker and with more authority.
“There have been a few things we’ve been wanting to tidy up,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “It’s a day to recharge. … nice to come up for some air.”
Auston Matthews scored two goals on Tuesday and has 20 for the season. He is on a 10-game point streak (13 goals, five assists). He has helped the Maple Leafs go 7-2-1 in their past 10 games.
“Taking care of our end first has led us to our success in the offensive zone,” Matthews said. “We’ve been playing solid, playing with a lot of pace throughout these games. And when opportunities have come, we’ve been able to capitalize on them, whether it’s five-on-five or on the power play.”
Injuries and COVID-19 protocols have left the Canucks with only three defensemen who started the season still in the regular rotation: Quinn Hughes, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Kyle Burroughs. Tyler Myers was added to the NHL’s health and safety protocols on Saturday.
–Field Level Media