Canucks host Jackets, seek first win
Monday, 10.05.2009 / 7:00 PM
BLUE JACKETS (1-0-0) at CANUCKS (0-2-0)
Season series: First of four meetings this season; Columbus won three of the four meetings between teams that made the playoffs last season, including a wild 6-5 shootout victory on Jan. 18. Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash and Kevin Bieksa of the Canucks led the series with three goals apiece.
Big Story: While the Jackets hit the road fresh off a season-opening win against Minnesota, the Canucks come home about as desperate to get two points as a team with 80 games remaining can be. They lost road games at Calgary and Colorado, with goaltender Roberto Luongo allowing a total of seven goals.
Blue Jackets: Columbus got a great deal accomplished on Saturday, much of it revolving around veteran defenseman Rostislav Klesla. The first-ever draft pick by the Jackets (No. 4 in 2000) signed a four-year contract extension prior to the game against the Wild, then went out and scored the game-winning goal in the third period. Steve Mason, the reigning Calder Trophy winner, stopped 32 shots in the 2-1 victory.
"It was a big effort by everybody on the ice," Klesla said. "The whole game everybody put in everything they had. It was a really tough game. It was a great victory for us to get things going."
Canucks: For a team that won the Northwest Division last season and has unfinished business after a second-round playoff ouster by Chicago, it's been rough going early on for Vancouver. The Canucks almost rallied from a 4-1 deficit before losing 5-3 to the Flames on opening night, but they never got anything going in a 3-0 defeat to the resurgent Avalanche on Saturday.
"Right now we've got one line that’s generating in my mind offensively and that’s [the Sedin] line, they had great opportunities, lots of shots," coach Alain Vigneault said. "The other three lines right now aren’t doing enough in my mind to be successful."
Who's Hot: Mason picked up right where he left off and stymied Minnesota. Daniel Sedin had nine shots against Colorado and 12 over his first two games, though he only has one assist to show for it.
Injury Report: Forward Pavol Demitra and defenseman Mathieu Schneider started the season on injured reserve for the Canucks, while forward Jannik Hansen is out after undergoing surgery to repair three broken fingers suffered in a preseason fight. The Jackets are without forward Fredrik Modin long term due to a sprained MCL in his right knee. Defenseman Mike Commodore is also out with a groin pull.
Stat Pack: After finishing at the bottom of the League in power-play goals and percentage last season, the Jackets were 0-for-3 against the Wild in their opener, though they did open the scoring on a shorthanded tally by R.J. Umberger.
Puck Drop: It's going to be a festive atmosphere at General Motors Place regardless of the Canucks' slow start -- after all, you only get one home opener a season. However, once the puck drops it will be all business, and the fans could turn quickly if Vancouver fails to show early signs of life.
-- Brian Hunter, NHL.com