Canucks-Maple Leafs Preview
The Toronto Maple Leafs probably wouldn't mind if he wanted to take another day off.
Sedin, who has frustrated the Leafs for years, hopes to lead the Canucks to a ninth straight victory in the series Saturday night in Toronto.
Sedin missed his first game of the season Thursday night in Carolina after waking up with a stiff back. It appeared Vancouver (18-11-2) would be just fine without its star left wing when it jumped out to a 2-0 lead midway through the second period, but the Hurricanes stormed back to hand the Canucks a 4-3 loss. It marked Vancouver's second straight defeat to an NHL bottom feeder - it fell to Columbus in a shootout Tuesday - after winning nine of its previous 10 games.
"Obviously there's some things we need to shore up and execute better," said center Cody Hodgson, a Toronto native.
The Canucks, who are 4-6-1 when Sedin doesn't record a point, are hopeful they won't have to be without him again. He leads the team with 12 goals and his 34 points trail only twin brother Henrik's 35. Daniel Sedin has also been key to Vancouver's success against Toronto.
The Canucks have outscored the Maple Leafs 34-16 in an eight-game winning streak in the series since a 2-1 loss Nov. 14, 2003. The winning streak is Vancouver's longest active run of dominance over an opponent, and Toronto's longest current losing streak in any series.
Daniel Sedin has five goals and eight assists during the winning streak.
Alex Burrows, who scored his 10th goal of the season Thursday, has also played a big role, with five goals and six assists in the last eight meetings with the Leafs.
The Canucks won 5-3 at the Air Canada Centre in November last season and beat the Leafs 4-1 at home a month later.
Toronto (16-12-3) missed the playoffs for a sixth straight year, but is showing promise in 2011-12, sitting in seventh place in the Eastern Conference.
"They're much improved from the last time we saw them and we obviously expect a tough game," Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo said.
Toronto is in the midst of a disappointing stretch, however, with a 2-4-1 record since Nov. 30. The Maple Leafs fell 5-4 to Buffalo on Friday, when they allowed the Sabres to convert 3 of 6 power-play chances. They've killed just 9 of 19 penalties in their last four games.
"We've taken far too many penalties in the last two or three weeks,'' Toronto coach Ron Wilson said. "Penalty killers taking penalties doesn't give you a chance.''
Gustavsson, 5-1-0 with a 2.31 goals-against average since Nov. 19, stopped 25 of 28 shots in his lone start against the Canucks, a 4-1 loss last Dec. 18.
The Canucks expect to go with Luongo for the finale of their five-game road trip after he got a night off against the Hurricanes. Luongo, 4-0-1 with a 1.32 GAA since Dec. 4, has been between the pipes for Vancouver's last seven games against the Leafs, going 6-0-1 with a 2.03 GAA.