Both the visiting New York Rangers and the Vancouver Canucks head into their Saturday night clash on a roll.
Both clubs are riding three-game winning streaks and have started the season with five wins in seven games. There is one more similarity as the clubs get ready to meet on the West Coast.
Both are coming off shutout victories.
The Rangers, who have won all three games to start a five-game trip, arrived in Vancouver after an impressive 3-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday.
The Oilers were without star captain Connor McDavid, and the Rangers ensured nobody else took control of the game in his place, especially the other half of Edmonton’s dynamic duo, Leon Draisaitl.
“Whether McDavid’s in there or not, they’re still a great team and they have a lot of offensive flair,” said New York defenseman Braden Schneider, who collected a goal and an assist in the victory. “It’s a huge two points for us. (Draisaitl) is an elite player. Holding him to three shots is a huge win.”
The Rangers, who are off to their best seven-game start since the 2016-17 season, boast a litany of players making their mark. Leading the charge is Artemi Panarin, who collected two assists at Edmonton to give him three goals and 10 points in a season-opening, seven-game point streak.
Alexis Lafreniere has scored in three consecutive games, setting up the 2020 first overall draft pick for a breakout campaign while skating on the second line with Panarin and Filip Chytil.
“When they’re moving, they’re really dangerous,” said Rangers coach Peter Laviolette, whose team has held opponents to one goal or less in all five wins this season. “They read off of each other well.”
The Canucks dominated the visiting St. Louis Blues in a 5-0 victory on Friday, an impressive performance in Vancouver’s first game after a five-game road swing.
“It was probably one of the better starts I’ve seen us have in my career, and I’m really proud of that effort in the first (period),” said Vancouver goaltender Thatcher Demko, who made 22 saves in his shutout performance. “We wanted to make sure we established that on home ice to build that culture.”
The Canucks have played two home games this season, and they outscored their opponents by a 13-1 margin in those contests.
Like their Saturday opponents, Vancouver’s big guns are making their mark. Captain Quinn Hughes scored twice against the Blues, which gives the defenseman three goals and eight points in seven games. Elias Pettersson contributed two assists, raising his total to 12 points (2-10-12), and J.T. Miller posted one goal and one assist against St. Louis, pushing his haul to 11 points (3-8-11).
That said, the Canucks know they must turn the page quickly from the latest victory to be prepared for the Rangers.
“We have to be mature,” Miller said. “It’s just a game, enjoy it, but we have to play a game (Saturday) against a really good team that’s hungry and has been playing well.”
After Demko played on Friday, the Canucks are likely to turn to Casey DeSmith in net on Saturday. The Rangers are expected to start Igor Shesterkin after Jonathan Quick made 29 saves while blanking the Oilers on Thursday.