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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, February 14th (All times eastern)

Minnesota Wild (32-21-4) at Vancouver Canucks (28-22-7), 10 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Vancouver Canucks have an opportunity to gain ground on the Minnesota Wild in the Northwest Division race when the two teams get together this evening at General Motors Place.

The Wild sit atop the Northwest standings with 68 points, two better than second-place Calgary and three more than Colorado. Vancouver is currently fourth in the crowded division, but is just five points out of the top spot.

The Canucks had fallen back in the pack after losing 10 times during a 12-game stretch from January 10-February 5. The club has won two of three since that rough patch and is coming off a 3-2 shootout victory over visiting Chicago on Sunday.

Ryan Shannon scored the only goal of the shootout when he backhanded the puck past Chicago netminder Nikolai Khabibulin in the second round. Roberto Luongo stopped all three Blackhawk skaters he faced in the deciding phase after turning aside 16-of-18 shots over the first 65 minutes of action.

Markus Naslund and Alexandre Burrows had the regulation goals for the Canucks, who will be playing the third test of a four-game homestand tonight. Vancouver began the residency with a 6-2 loss to Colorado on Saturday.

The Canucks own a 15-11-2 record at GM Place for the season.

Minnesota had a two-game win streak halted with Tuesday's 4-2 setback at fellow Northwest member Edmonton. Kyle Brodziak scored twice in the third period for the Oilers and Mathieu Garon racked up 38 saves for the victors.

Both of Brodziak's tallies came against Josh Harding, who stopped 10-of-12 shots after replacing Wild starter Niklas Backstrom to begin the third period. Backstrom made nine saves on 11 attempts before being lifted.

Minnesota wraps up a three-game road trip which started with a 2-1 shootout win at St. Louis on Sunday. The Wild are 15-12-2 as the visitors this year.

On the injury front, Wild defenseman Kim Johnsson sat out Tuesday's loss due to illness and is questionable for tonight's contest. The Canucks hope to get a member back to their depleted defense corps this evening, as Aaron Miller could return tonight after sitting out the team's last four games with a sore foot.

The Wild and Canucks have split four previous meetings this season, with each team winning once in the two matchups held at GM Place. Minnesota has taken the two most recent tests, including a 4-2 triumph in Vancouver on January 21.

02/14 11:35:34 ET


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