Canucks shoot for 50th victory

Sports Network

, Last Updated: 10:37 AM ET

While home is where the heart is, the Vancouver Canucks have looked very comfortable in other team's arenas as well.

Aiming for their first 50-win season in club history, the Canucks will try to match the longest road winning streak in club history this evening as they visit the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

The Canucks reached 49 wins in a season for the third time in team history, and for the second year in a row, on Friday with a 3-1 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers. The triumph also helped the club break a pair of franchise single-season marks in points (107) and road wins (24).

Though the NHL's leader in points, Daniel Sedin, failed on a penalty shot and had a nine-game point streak end, Roberto Luongo stood tall with 30 saves, while Alexandre Burrows, Mason Raymond and Alexandre Bolduc scored the goals.

The Canucks have won two straight to begin a four-game road trip and have taken nine of their last 10 overall. Their seven-game winning streak as the visiting club is one shy of the club record set from Dec. 20, 2003-Jan. 13, 2004.

"We haven't had our own lineup basically the whole year," said Vancouver forward Ryan Kesler. "We're missing some key guys right now. That's the thing about this team, we've dealt with adversity all year. We're not going to sit here and complain about it. We're going to go out and get the job done. I think that speaks of the character and leadership of this room."

The victory moved Vancouver one step closer to securing the top overall seed in the Western Conference. The Northwest Division champs hold a 10-point edge over the Red Wings and Sharks; Detroit and Vancouver both have seven games remaining, while San Jose has just six.

The Canucks are also seven points ahead of the Flyers in the race for the Presidents' Trophy, though Philadelphia has a game in hand.

Getting rest this season has been key for Luongo, who leads the league with 35 wins and ranks third with a 2.18 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage. That won't stop Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault from giving backup Cory Schneider his 20th start of the season.

Schneider is 14-3-2 with a 2.22 GAA in 21 overall appearances this season and is 1-1 with a 3.65 GAA in two games (one start) in his career versus the Blue Jackets.

Schneider may see those career numbers improve as the Blue Jackets were shut out for the third time in five games on Thursday, a 3-0 setback at Phoenix, and have lost three straight and 12 of their past 14 (2-7-5) to fall 11 points out of a playoff spot with eight games to play.

Mathieu Garon made 20 saves in the setback, while Phoenix goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov turned aside all 28 Columbus shots.

"He doesn't give up that many rebounds," current Blue Jackets and former Coyotes defenseman Sami Lepisto said of Bryzgalov. "He's a great goalie."

Columbus is 0-3-2 in its last five at home and has dropped three straight as the host to Vancouver. That is part of the Canucks' current six-game series winning streak.

Though both of Vancouver's victories at home this season over Columbus went past regulation, it recorded a 7-3 triumph when it visited Nationwide Arena on Dec. 23.

Steve Mason could draw the start for the Blue Jackets tonight in net and is 3-3-2 with a 3.54 GAA lifetime versus the Canucks.


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