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Canucks can claim Northwest crown by beating Wild

Sunday, 04.04.2010 / 7:00 PM

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

WILD (37-35-6) at CANUCKS (47-27-4)

Last 10 -- Minnesota 4-6-0; Vancouver 5-4-1

Season series --
It's the sixth and final meeting between the Northwest Division rivals, with the Wild looking for their third win in a row and a split for the season. Vancouver won the first three games; Minnesota won the last two, including a 6-2 victory at the Xcel Energy Center on Feb. 14 in the last meeting.

Big story -- The Canucks wrapped up a playoff berth with a win at Anaheim on Friday; they can claim their third division title in four years with a victory over the Wild in front of the home folks at GM Place. Minnesota’s playoff hopes officially ended Friday when the Wild lost 3-2 at home to San Jose.

Team Scope:


Wild -- Minnesota, which is starting a three-game trip, will be playing for pride alone after being assured of missing the playoffs in back-to-back seasons after winning the division title in 2007-08.

"The writing was kind of on the wall, but it's never fun playing these games when you're mathematically eliminated," forward Andrew Brunette said. "We'll have to find a different kind of motivation and end the year on the right note."

Canucks -- Vancouver got some unexpected offense in Friday night's win from rookie forward Michael Grabner, their first-round pick in 2006. Grabner scored once in the second period and twice in the third for his first NHL hat trick; he came into the game having scored just twice all season and not at all since Oct. 25 -- though he missed much of the season with an injury.

"The kid's got a lot of skills," coach Alain Vigneault said. "Sometimes those things just happen. He stayed after it in some tough situations out there and made it happen."

Who's hot --
Guillaume Latendresse has 25 goals in 53 games since coming over in a November trade with Montreal. … NHL scoring leader Henrik Sedin was held off the scoresheet on Friday but has 9 points in his last five games. His 105 points are a single-season franchise record.

Injury report -- Minnesota hopes to have Martin Havlat back after he missed Friday's game due to illness. … Vancouver's Mikael Samuelsson remains out with a shoulder injury, while Willie Mitchell (concussion) and Steve Bernier (sports hernia) are on injured reserve.

Stat pack --
The Canucks have tied a franchise record with their 28 home wins. … Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo has struggled since leading Canada to the Olympic gold medal. He is 7-6-1 with a 3.58 goals-against average in his last 14 games. … Anaheim scored a 5-on-3 goal against Vancouver on Friday night, the first allowed by the Canucks this season.

Puck drop --
The 18,810 fans who will fill GM Place Sunday night hope the Easter Bunny puts a division title in their baskets. This game and the three that follow it will be a big test for the resolve of the Wild players and coaching staff.


2009-2010 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Apr 04 '10MIN 3 at VAN 4 - OTS. Salo
Feb 14 '10VAN 2 at MIN 6M. Zidlicky
Jan 13 '10VAN 2 at MIN 5A. Miettinen
Dec 12 '09MIN 3 at VAN 4R. Kesler
Nov 05 '09VAN 5 at MIN 2H. Sedin
Oct 17 '09MIN 1 at VAN 2M. Samuelsson
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
M. Koivu77204868-15072
A. Brunette79243559-512123
M. Havlat72183654-173443
M. Zidlicky7863743-176743
A. Miettinen76202242-14454
G. Latendresse77271340-11674
E. Belanger60132235-12833
O. Nolan73161733-124043
K. Brodziak7992231-32203
C. Clutterbuck7113720-84611
C. Barker6751520+76841
N. Schultz7911920-74310
B. Burns4431518-102820
A. Ebbett619615-8822
C. Kobasew478614-101612
K. Johnsson526814+32630
G. Zanon7821214-123400
S. Hnidy6721214-46600
R. Earl29606+2600
J. Sheppard62246-143800
B. Pouliot14224+01200
D. Boogaard54044-119500
P. Sykora14213-7800
J. Scott48112-37100
C. Wellman9022-3000
C. Stoner8022+11200
C. Almond4101-1200
J. Sifers14000+1600
N. Smith9000-41200
A. Hilbert4000-2200
J. Falk3000-2000
D. Irmen2000-1000
P. Bouchard1000+0200
P. Kalus1000+0000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
N. Backstrom5726-22-715015472.71.903
J. Harding259-12-0666923.05.905
A. Khudobin22-0-01480.87.979
W. Dubielewicz20-1-05293.85.828
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
H. Sedin792977106+364845
D. Sedin60245478+362678
R. Kesler79245074+187124
A. Burrows79353065+3311543
M. Samuelsson71302353+145874
M. Raymond79242650-24684
C. Ehrhoff79142943+334263
A. Edler7353439+03620
S. Salo6791726+131863
K. Wellwood72141125+61232
S. Bernier56111021-22130
K. Bieksa5211819-48510
P. Demitra2521315+4010
J. Hansen449514-51803
W. Mitchell484812+134801
M. Grabner185611+1821
T. Glass674711+511500
A. Alberts732911+78700
S. O'Brien63268+167900
R. Rypien67347-511901
M. Schneider17235+01210
R. Johnson58145-41201
A. Rome47044+11900
D. Hordichuk56112-714200
B. Lukowich13112+5401
N. Baumgartner10112+4000
M. Pettinger7112+2200
A. Bolduc15000-31300
S. Shirokov6000-4200
M. Bliznak2000-2000
G. Desbiens1000+0200
E. Oberg1000+0000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
R. Luongo6639-22-316118432.56.913
A. Raycroft209-4-1354072.31.914
C. Schneider20-1-05593.80.915