NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, February 9th (All times Eastern)
Vancouver Canucks (33-15-5) at Minnesota Wild (25-20-8), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Vancouver Canucks keep finding ways to win close games, but tonight they may have to find a way to do so without former Hart Trophy winner Henrik Sedin.
The Minnesota Wild are hoping the possible return of their captain can keep them in the postseason hunt.
The Wild may have Mikko Koivu back in the lineup this evening against a Canucks squad that could be minus one half of its high-scoring twin duo after Sedin was forced to miss practice on Wednesday.
Sedin, the league leader with 46 assists to go along with a 57-point total that ranks among the best in the NHL, suffered a right ankle injury blocking a shot in Tuesday's 4-3 shootout win over Nashville. Though Sedin returned to the game and had a pair of assists, his team-record string of 552 consecutive games played is in doubt for tonight.
"We're still waiting on results from a CT scan" said Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault on Wednesday. "They did an x-ray and couldn't tell from the x- ray. He was obviously in a lot of pain."
A potential loss of Sedin could be big for the Northwest Division-leading Canucks. Though they have a comfortable 13-point lead over the second-place Wild in the division, they trail the Red Wings by three points for the top spot in the Western Conference.
Vancouver is 5-0-2 in its past seven games and has just two regulation losses in its past 14 trips to the ice (9-2-3). Still, those spans have come with anxious moments as the Canucks have gone to a shootout in three straight games, including the first two of a four-game road trip, and all told each of their past five games and eight of 10 have gone beyond regulation.
Tuesday was the latest instance as goals by Ryan Kesler, Byron Bitz and Daniel Sedin staked the Canucks to a 3-1 lead after the first period versus the Predators, but Nashville scored twice in the second off Roberto Luongo to even things up. Alexander Edler then won it for Vancouver in the sixth round of the shootout.
"It's a tight league. Not a lot of separation, and we're going to be involved in a lot of tight games," Luongo said after making 37 saves.
The Wild open a four-game homestand following Tuesday's 3-1 loss to the Blue Jackets. Minnesota was hoping that Koivu could return for that tilt, but he missed his eighth straight game due to a shoulder injury. However, he had a good practice on Wednesday according to head coach Mike Yeo and said the team would see how he is today before making a decision on his return.
"I had a good skate and felt better again. I guess each and everyday it's getting better, so that's a good sign," Koivu said after practice, adding it's up to Yeo if he plays tonight.
The Wild could certainly use Koivu as they have lost three of four and 18 of their last 23 (5-13-5) since a seven-game win streak from Nov. 28-Dec. 10. Nate Prosser scored his first career goal in Tuesday's loss to the Blue Jackets, while Niklas Backstrom allowed three goals on 37 shots.
"It was back-and-forth. We had a couple chances, but I don't think we deserved to win the game," Yeo said.
Minnesota enters play tonight tied for eighth in the West with Phoenix, one more than both Colorado and Calgary.
The Canucks have won six of seven and eight of their past 11 encounters with the Wild, but have lost five of their past six in Minnesota.
02/09 10:33:01 ET