NHL Previews: Avs look to roll over Canucks; Hawks battle Kraken; and Caps face Kings

The NHL schedule has just three games on the docket tonight.

Vancouver is off to a bad start, and management is opting to stay patient. Tonight, the Canucks will host the Colorado Avalanche to get the festivities going.

Avalanche vs Canucks (9:00 PM ET)

The injuries have been frequent and significant for the Colorado Avalanche, so general manager Joe Sakic hit the waiver wire to help fill some holes.

Colorado claimed winger Nicolas Aube-Kubel from Philadelphia and he will be thrown right into the lineup Wednesday night in Vancouver against the Canucks. Aube-Kubel was claimed Saturday, arrived in Denver on Monday, and began practicing on a line with Tyson Jost and Alex Newhook.

Aube-Kubel, a second-round draft pick by the Flyers in 2014, played 102 games for Philadelphia, including seven this season. He is a right-shooting forward and fills an immediate need with the announcement that J.T. Compher will miss four weeks with an upper-body injury sustained Saturday night against San Jose.

In addition, Nathan MacKinnon continues to sit with a lower-body injury and Bo Byram is still in concussion protocol.

The Canucks, meanwhile, are in somewhat of a spiral. After reaching the second round of the playoffs in 2020, they didn’t qualify last season. Now Vancouver is off to a poor start through 16 games and is coming off a winless three-game road trip in which it was outscored 19-6.

“There is some frustration,” Horvat said. “But at the same time, we’ve played a lot of good hockey this year. (Coach) Travis (Green) is putting systems in place and doing everything that he needs to do, it’s just a matter of us going out and doing it.”

The Canucks have lost four straight overall and the slow start could have consequences. It was reported that owner Francesco Aquilini was going to meet with general manager Jim Benning ahead of the start of a three-game homestand.

Blackhawks vs Kraken (10:00 PM ET)

Blackhawks Kraken
Nov 12, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Dylan Strome (17) and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (29) celebrate their win against the Arizona Coyotes during the third period at United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Derek King era has gotten off to a regal start.

The Blackhawks won King’s debut 2-1 in overtime against Nashville on Nov. 7, beat Pittsburgh 3-2 in a shootout two nights later and topped Arizona 2-1 in regulation Friday night as Dylan Strome scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period.

Alex DeBrincat also scored for Chicago, Patrick Kane had two assists and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 22 shots.

“I feel more and more comfortable as we go here,” King told NHL.com. “Just with the guys, with the meetings, just with everything on ice.”

The Kraken have lost four straight games and six of their past seven to drop into the Pacific Division cellar.

They suffered a 4-2 loss Saturday at home to Minnesota as Rem Pitlick, picked up by the Wild off waivers last month, scored his first three goals — two on breakaways.

“What I think happened (Saturday) was I think we forced it a bit. Myself, it starts with me,” said Kraken captain Mark Giordano, a former Norris Trophy winner as the league’s top defenseman. “You can’t have a turnover that leads to breakaways, and it happened twice to us (Saturday).

“When the game is tight and it’s 1-0 and nothing is happening offensively, you got a chess match. You gotta be smart about where you turn over the puck, how you manage the puck, and it stung us for sure.”

Capitals vs Kings (10:30 PM ET)

anze kopitar
Oct 14, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar (11) celebrates with right wing Adrian Kempe (9) after scoring a goal during the second period against the Vegas Golden Knights at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Kings open a seven-game homestand Wednesday night against the Washington Capitals on the heels of a very successful four-game road trip.

Despite losing Saturday in overtime to the Winnipeg Jets, the Kings finished 3-0-1 and extended their point streak to eight games (7-0-1).

Los Angeles has turned its season around after losing six straight — four by one goal — early on.

“Obviously we struggled a little bit at the beginning of the year to find our game as a team, and then we definitely found it,” forward Phillip Danault said. “Everyone wants to be the difference-maker every night, and that’s been the difference.”

The Washington Capitals saw their four-game winning streak end with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks in the opener of a four-game road trip Tuesday night.

Tom Wilson scored with 2:32 left in the third period to force overtime and Garrett Pilon, recalled from Hershey of the American League earlier in the day, scored his first NHL goal. Wilson has four points (two goals, two assists) in his past three games.

One night after facing the streaking Ducks, who won their eighth straight game, the Capitals play the streaking Kings.

“We’ve got to come out hard and leave everything out there, and then try to recover and come back the next day and just keep building off those games,” Capitals defenseman Nick Jensen said of embarking on the trip. “It’s definitely going to be a good test against those teams out West there that are pretty good.”

Forward Lars Eller entered COVID-19 protocol Tuesday, meaning Washington is without three of its four usual centers. With the addition of Pilon, the Capitals have six rookies in their lineup.

–Field Level Media