Avalanche-Canucks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 05, 2011
The surging Vancouver Canucks have seemed to recapture the form that brought them within a victory of the Stanley Cup last season. With Roberto Luongo healthy, the Canucks look to continue their dominance of the streaking Colorado Avalanche and win for a seventh time in eight games on Tuesday night at Rogers Arena. Luongo returned to the ice Thursday for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury Nov. 13, but allowed three goals in relief of Cory Schneider in a 6-5 loss to Nashville. Luongo - and the Canucks (15-10-1) - were much better Sunday. Starting for the first time in three weeks, he made 21 saves in a 5-1 victory over Calgary, Vancouver's sixth in its last seven. "It was nice to get back in there with a win,'' Luongo said. "That was the goal, and the boys did a great job.'' Luongo was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy last season after winning 38 games with a career-best 2.11 goals-against average before helping Vancouver reach Game 7 of the finals, but struggled to a 6-5-1 start with a 3.14 GAA before taking a shot to the mask against the New York Islanders last month. He'll likely get the start Tuesday as Vancouver looks to extend its point streak against Colorado to 13 games. The Canucks have outscored the Avalanche 48-24 while going 10-0-2 in the series since Nov. 1, 2009. Luongo is 6-0-2 with a 2.58 GAA in his last eight starts during that run, while Schneider is 3-0-0 with a 1.00 GAA - including a shutout in Denver on Nov. 23. Daniel Sedin has scored in three consecutive games, a run he'll look to extend against an Avalanche team that's won three straight after beating Detroit 4-2 on Sunday. Ryan O'Reilly scored twice, giving him four goals and three assists over his last three games after having only two assists in his previous seven contests combined. "I don't think I've had this many points in a row,'' O'Reilly said. "My linemates make me look good.'' O'Reilly has a team-high 21 points, though Matt Duchene has struggled of late. He had an assist Sunday, but that was just his third point with no goals over his last six games. The Avs (13-13-1) had gone 3-9-1 in their previous 13 games prior to their current streak, during which they've outscored their opponents 12-5. "Hopefully, we're turning the tide a bit here and it's nice to get some wins at home,'' said winger T.J. Galiardi, who has two goals in his last three games. "We talked about it before the New Jersey game (Nov. 30), we needed somewhere to start, something to build off of and since then we've been playing some pretty good hockey.'' Semyon Varlamov has allowed two goals or fewer in six consecutive starts, going 4-2-0 with a 1.82 GAA after making 27 saves against Detroit. That stretch started with last month's loss to Vancouver, when Manny Malhotra and Alex Burrows scored before Ryan Kesler added an empty-netter. Burrows has scored in two straight games versus the Avs. Kesler has five goals in his last seven in the series.
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