It’s been over six weeks since the Vancouver Canucks last strung together consecutive wins, something that’s difficult to accomplish with so few victories from which to build.
They’ve put themselves in a rare position to end that drought, and Monday night’s home matchup with the New York Islanders pits them against the next-worst team in hockey during their futile stretch.
Vancouver (29-27-10) is 3-11-1 since last winning two straight games Jan. 18-21, and its seven points in that time is the worst total in hockey. New York (24-33-9) is a point better at 3-9-2 and also hasn’t won consecutive games in that span, but thanks to their season-long struggles, the Islanders don’t have the pressure of being four points out of a playoff spot.
The Canucks have lost 19 of 25 games since going 10-1-2 in December.
"We needed to play," coach John Tortorella said after Saturday’s 2-1 home win over Calgary. "We have to scratch, claw and grind and find points anyway possible."
That entailed a third-period goal from Yannick Weber against the Flames to break a 1-all tie. Darren Archibald scored his first career goal to tie the game in the second on a night the Canucks managed just 14 shots. It was their only game under 20 shots this season.
Neither goal scorer was touting his finish as an exceptionally skilled play, but they aren’t in position to be picky.
"Maybe it wasn’t the prettiest of goals, but that’s how we have to get out of our slump," Weber said. "We played a gritty game, and got some ugly goals and that’s the way we have to play."
Vancouver has now scored 11 goals in its last 10 games, a number that’s likely putting plenty of pressure on rookie goaltender Eddie Lack, who recently took over the No. 1 job when Roberto Luongo was dealt to Florida at the trade deadline.
Lack made 22 saves against Calgary and allowed no more than one goal for the fifth time in seven starts during the team’s 10-game offensive outage. His 1.79 goals-against average in that time has been rewarded with just a 2-4-1 record.
While Daniel Sedin continues to miss time with a lower-body injury, Henrik Sedin has been just as present on the scoresheet. He doesn’t have a point in his last 12 games, matching the drought Daniel sits on while he recovers.
If Henrik’s career-worst streak doesn’t continue Monday, a more positive one will. He has 11 points on an eight-game point streak against the Islanders, including an assist in Vancouver’s 5-4 win in New York on Oct. 22.
Ryan Kesler had a goal and an assist in that game to help give the Canucks a third straight win over the Islanders. Kesler has gone without a point in four consecutive games, one off his worst stretch of the season.
New York heads into the finale of a four-game Canadian road trip against the Western Conference with a 1-1-1 record.
The Islanders blew a two-goal lead in the final nine minutes of a 4-3 loss at Calgary on Friday.
"We just stopped playing," said Kyle Okposo, who scored his team-leading 26th goal. "We gave up a goal and we stopped moving our feet and stopped going after them. We dominated the game for 50 minutes. There’s no reason we should lose that game."
Canucks forward Zack Kassian will serve the second of a three-game suspension for his hit on Stars’ defenseman Brenden Dillon.