The Vancouver Canucks hope a matchup with a team struggling on the road will help them end their troubles at home.
The Canucks (8-8-1) will try to bounce back from a frustrating home defeat when they host the Minnesota Wild (10-6-2) on Friday night in the first matchup of the season between the Northwest Division foes.
Vancouver won the Northwest last season, but was 3-3-2 against Minnesota. That included a split of four games at GM Place, where the Canucks' season-high three-game winning streak ended with a 1-0 shootout loss to Edmonton on Wednesday.
The defeat was Vancouver's first in seven games against divisional opponents this season and dropped it 2-6-1 at home.
"We really can't look at (this game) as too frustrating," Vancouver center Ryan Kesler told the Canucks' official Web site. "It's not good to lose another home game, but at the same time, we've got to look at the effort we had tonight."
Roberto Luongo made 19 saves and was credited with his first shutout of the season despite the defeat. He has allowed just three goals in his last three games after allowing three in each of his previous three contests.
"I don't really care to be honest," Luongo said of his 33rd career shutout. "I just care about the win. We've got to find a way to win at home, that's the bottom line. It doesn't matter how we do it."
Luongo, who's started all nine of the Canucks' home games in 2007-08, was 26-11-4 there last season.
The Wild (10-6-2), meanwhile, won 4-2 at Edmonton on Thursday for their first win in six road games. Minnesota had allowed 19 goals during its five-game road losing streak.
"I don't think we were as sharp as we should have been tonight and I think it was a good thing we caught them playing for the second night in a row," Minnesota captain Brian Rolston said. "But the two points is two points and it was a win we needed."
Eric Belanger had a career-high four assists for the Wild, which got goals from four players. Minnesota, which is wrapping up a four-game road trip with this contest, scored twice on the power play and have nine goals in 26 chances with the man advantage over their last four games.
"Our power play came up with a pair of big goals and our penalty killing was good tonight. Otherwise we just got the bounces," said Mark Parrish, whose even-strength goal in the opening minute of the third period capped the scoring .
Marian Gaborik returned after missing three games with a groin injury and had a power-play goal and assist. Fellow forward Stephane Veilleux came back after sitting out two games with a fractured left cheekbone and took four shots on goal but did not record a point.
Goaltender Niklas Backstrom, who has been bothered by a groin injury this season, was replaced after the second period by Josh Harding. Backstrom, who made 24 saves, is 8-3-1 with a 2.13 goals-against average. Harding stopped all 14 shots he faced, and has never faced the Canucks.
Rolston had five goals and four assists and Pavol Demitra added three goals and six assists in eight games against the Canucks last season. Demitra was placed on injured reserve on Nov. 4 with a strained groin.
|Mar 28 '08||VAN 0 at MIN 4||P. Bouchard|
|Mar 21 '08||MIN 2 at VAN 1||B. Radivojevic|
|Feb 19 '08||VAN 3 at MIN 2 - OT||D. Sedin|
|Feb 14 '08||MIN 5 at VAN 4 - SO||M. Koivu|
|Jan 21 '08||MIN 4 at VAN 2||M. Koivu|
|Dec 02 '07||VAN 1 at MIN 2||A. Voros|
|Nov 21 '07||VAN 4 at MIN 2||M. Naslund|
|Nov 16 '07||MIN 2 at VAN 6||M. Ohlund|