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
02/14 10:31:21 ET