NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, February 14th (All times eastern)
Vancouver Canucks (37-21-2) at Minnesota Wild (29-27-4), 3 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Vancouver Canucks wrap up the first leg of their NHL- record 14-game road trip this afternoon with a visit to Minnesota to battle the Wild at Xcel Energy Center.
With the Winter Olympics taking over the city of Vancouver for the bulk of February, the Canucks haven't played a home game since January 27, nor will they again until March 13. The Canucks have compiled a 4-3-0 mark so far on the swing, which resumes with six games after the break.
The Canucks moved above .500 on the road trip Friday, using a pair of third- period goals to beat the Blue Jackets, 4-3. Sami Salo tied the game with a power-play marker early in the frame before Mikael Samuelsson's fluke goal 7:56 into the period put Vancouver ahead for good.
Samuelsson's goal came after he wristed a shot from the slot that was deflected high into the air by a Columbus player. Blue Jackets netminder Steve Mason had already committed to the butterfly and the puck sailed high over his head and into the goal.
Nolan Baumgartner scored his first goal since January 26, 2006, though just a span of 41 NHL games between goals, and Kyle Wellwood also lit the lamp in Vancouver's 10th win in its last 13 games overall. That has the Canucks tied with the Avalanche for first place in the Northwest Division.
Andrew Raycroft gave Roberto Luongo a breathier in net and settled down to make 32 saves after allowing a goal just 22 seconds in.
"Feels real good to get the win and feels good to get through a bad start on my part," said Raycroft after making his ninth start of the season and just his second since December 5. "I just battled through it. It was awesome to see the guys work as hard as they did."
The Wild will likely see Luongo, who is 2-1-0 with a 3.19 goals-against average this year versus Minnesota, today as they wrap a five-game homestand. Minnesota has split the first four games of the residency, including a 3-2 loss on Friday to Atlanta.
Andrew Brunette and Andrew Ebbett had the goals for Minnesota, which is still an outstanding 20-8-2 at home this season. Niklas Backstrom allowed three goals on 24 shots in defeat.
"I mean, that's been kind of the case in some of these games of late," Brunette said. "Some of these games we put a lot of pucks in and nothing's gone in and it's very disappointing."
The Wild, seven points out of a playoff spot, will get their first look at Cam Barker in a Minnesota uniform tonight after acquiring the 23-year-old defenseman from Chicago on Friday for 33-year blueliner Kim Johnsson and 2009 first-round draft pick Nick Leddy.
Barker, the third overall pick of 2004, had four goals and 10 assists in 51 games this year with the Blackhawks after notching 40 points last season.
The Wild notched a 5-2 home win over the Canucks on January 13 to snap a five- game series losing streak and four-game slide at home to Vancouver. The Canucks have still won eight of the last 10 overall in the series and five of seven at Xcel Energy Center.
Backstrom has made three starts versus Vancouver this year, going 1-2-0 with a 3.03 GAA.
02/14 10:31:21 ET