LUNCH DATE WITH PENGUINS
The Pittsburgh Penguins are fourth in the Eastern conference and have won seven of their last eight games. The Canucks last met Crosby and his team in December 2007 when Vancouver lost the game 2-1 in a shootout.Sami Salo
has returned to Vancouver, suffering from a hamstring injury and the flu. Head coach Alain Vigneault has said that it is the flu more than the injury that prevented Salo from playing yesterday. Rob Davison will replace him in tomorrow's lineup.
Willie Mitchell seems to have also caught this bug and will again be a game time decision. Mitchell played last night and so did Alex Edler, who returned to the lineup Wednesday after missing two games with a sore throat and flu-like symptoms. Moose d-man Nolan Baumgartner
recalled yesterday is with the team in Pittsburgh and will play if Mitchell is too ill. Kevin Bieksa
remains out of the lineup and in Vancouver as he rehabs a fractured foot that was injured by a blocked shot on November 4th against Nashville. He is expected to be out 2-4 weeks.
Of the Penguins 18 games this season, nine have been decided outside of regulation. The Canucks have two overtime wins and are 1-2 in shootouts.
The Canucks will likely face another former team in Pittsburgh tomorrow. Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, is out with a leg injury suffered last Saturday and is doubtful to start, so former Vancouver backup goalie Dany Sabourin is expected to play.ATOP THE NORTHWEST
Curtis Sanford stood tall in net for the Canucks as the team defeated the Wild 3-2 last night, to move into first place in the Northwest Division. It was Sanford's second start of the season and the first time he played in 34 days. He made 28 saves to guarantee the win, ending Minnesota’s three-game winning streak.
"This is a start that I knew I was getting for a week, so it gave me time to prepare," said Sanford. "I just wanted to forget about Buffalo [5-2 loss] and just have a strong game. At first, I thought it was going to be the Rangers [Wednesday], but then it was against a division rival for first place -- so that makes it twice as good."
The win also marked Rob Davison's 200th career NHL game.
Forward Pavol Demitra had a huge game, playing with the Sedins against his former club, scoring in the second to bring the game to 2-2 tie, before setting up Daniel Sedin
’s game winner in the third. Demitra who has seven points in the four games since he returned from a rib injury that sidelined him for 10 games, earned the second star of the evening.
"You want to play your best game [against your old team] and show them what kind of player I am," said Demitra. "Tonight was huge and I was really energized for this game.
"I feel great and I like my line. "We can be the top line in the league and it's very easy to play with those two guys. We are passing the puck where I know exactly where they are standing and they can also read me. I've definitely enjoyed every single shift I've played with those guys."
Steve Bernier also scored for the Canucks, his first goal in nine games. The team was confident and energized as they boarded yet another plane to take them back east again to Pittsburgh where they will face off against Sidney Crosby and the Penguins.
"To play when you get in at 2:30 in the morning and come out against a team that's rested," said Mitchell. "We did it missing two key cogs on defence [and] a couple of guys are sick. It's kind of a statement game for our team and a confidence builder."GILLIS SITS DOWN WITH BETTMAN
Canucks GM Mike Gillis sat down with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on Wednesday to discuss a few team initiatives.
The main topic on the agenda was the travel schedules for Western conference teams. The Canucks have prepared an in-depth, scientific study of the NHL schedule and how it affects many of the western teams. Gillis brought up the issue in an effort to level the playing field for the clubs furthest away from the mainstay of the league's cities.
"We've had this on-going, detailed scientific study of the schedule prepared by [manager of scouting and player information] Jonathan Wall which we feel is salient, topical and not in any way prejudicial and we presented it to the commissioner," said Gillis.
"We didn't go through it with [Bettman], but we presented it with a view to mitigating some of the issues we face. We'll wait for them to go through it when they have an opportunity and we'll schedule a follow-up call next week some time to see what they think.
"Obviously we're not going to be able to solve all of our problems, and after December this year, we'll be in pretty good shape with the schedule, but it's a step we think we need to take and we'll see what comes of it."
The idea of allowing Canucks captain Roberto Luongo
to wear a ‘C’ on his sweater also came up, but no decisions were made.
Saturday's game will kick off at 11am PST and can be watched on Sportsnet Pacific.OTHER NEWS:
Check out Canucks Fantasy Hockey
, a free online game that allows you to play against other Vancouver Canucks fans as you attempt to earn the most points during each of the Vancouver Canucks' regular season hockey games.