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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Monday, December 19th (All times eastern)

Minnesota Wild (20-8-5) at Vancouver Canucks (19-11-2), 10 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Despite three straight losses, including back-to-back shootout defeats, the Minnesota Wild are still sitting comfortably atop the Northwest Division standings.

The Vancouver Canucks are right on Minnesota's tail and will try to add to the Wild's misery when the two division inhabitants collide tonight at Rogers Arena. Minnesota is five points (45) ahead of Vancouver for the division lead and has the second-most points in the NHL behind Chicago (46).

Minnesota is winless in its last three games since ripping off seven consecutive victories and suffered a 2-1 shootout loss versus the New York Islanders on Saturday at home. Cal Clutterbuck scored in the third period to send the game into overtime and Niklas Backstrom made 35 saves for the Wild, who have lost three straight for the first time since April 2-7, 2010.

"We didn't have the spark that we needed tonight," Minnesota's Matt Cullen said after the game.

Wild forwards Mikko Koivu (leg) and Casey Wellman (wrist) missed the game and are questionable for tonight. Center Pierre-Marc Bouchard (nose/lip) is also questionable and goaltender Josh Harding (head/neck) is expected to be available for this evening's game.

The Wild are opening a three-game road trip through Canada Monday against Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, and are 10-4-2 away from St. Paul this season.

Clutterbuck has two goals and three assists in his last five contests.

Vancouver just went 3-1-1 on a five-game road trip and is back home for a four-game residency versus the Wild, Red Wings, Flames and Oilers. The Canucks avoided a third straight loss and won for the 10th time in 13 tries with Saturday's 5-3 triumph at Toronto.

Chris Higgins and Alexandre Burrows each had a goal and an assist, while Mason Raymond, Daniel Sedin and Jannik Hansen also scored for the Canucks, who got 26 saves from netminder Roberto Luongo.

"We played good against them, but they stayed in the game and we were lucky to put it away later," said Sedin, who has four goals in his last five games.

The Canucks shoot for a third straight win at home tonight and are 8-4-1 as the host this season.

Minnesota and Vancouver have split a pair of meetings this season, with each team holding serve as the host, but the Canucks have won five of the previous seven matchups between the two clubs. The Wild are winless in eight straight games at Rogers Arena.

12/19 10:51:41 ET


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