The Canucks (36-12-9) will try to avoid back-to-back losses when they visit the division rival Minnesota Wild (30-20-5) at the Xcel Energy Center tonight.
After losing only two of their last 11 games, the Wild find themselves back in the postseason hunt, one point behind the Flames for the eighth and final playoff spot, with four games in hand. They’ve won four in a row on home ice and three straight overall.
In their last trip to Minnesota the Canucks were shutout 4-0 at the tail end of a long east coast road trip. The Canucks have lost both games in Minnesota this year by a combined 10-2 margin and are 13-14-3 all time when visiting the Wild.
The Canucks will look to get off to a quick start and play tight team defense against the Wild; Minnesota is 25-2-4 when scoring first and 24-3-2 when scoring three or more goals.
Only one lineup change tonight, as Yann Sauve slots in to the 3rd defensive pairing to play alongside Aaron Rome. The forward lines will remain intact.
Cory Schneider gets the call between the pipes, his first start since losing to the Anaheim Ducks last Wednesday at Rogers Arena. After going undefeated in his first 10 games this season, Schneider has only one win in his last four. In the wake of last night’s loss he stressed the importance of getting back in the win column tonight.
“You never want to lose twice in two nights. That leaves a bad feeling in the room and lets bad habits in that can snowball pretty quickly,” Schneider said.
The Canucks took the morning off to rest up after flying in from St Louis last night. Only Schneider took to the ice to get a little extra practice in with goaltending coach Rollie Melanson.
After the game the Canucks travel to Nashville to finish up their three game Midwest road trip on Thursday night. They return home to host the Stars at Rogers Arena on Saturday.
ANOTHER DEFENSEMAN GOES DOWN
What would a Canucks game be without another injury to a key defenseman? Over the past month six Canucks defensemen have gone down: Aaron Rome, Dan Hamhuis, Alexander Edler, Lee Sweatt, Keith Ballard and Andrew Alberts – twice. Of those, only Rome will play tonight in Minnesota.
Alberts, the latest casualty, will miss up to six weeks with a fractured wrist suffered during last night’s game against the St Louis Blues.
"Injuries are part of the game, but you've got to pull together and find ways to win hockey games. Obviously we're getting tested right now,” said Coach Vigneault.
The few remaining Canucks regular defenseman are getting used to the extra ice time. Kevin Bieksa logged 28:07 last night, while Christian Ehrhoff played 29:16.
“What more can you say about it?” said Kevin Bieksa. “Guys are getting hurt and there's not much you can do to control it, so you just keep playing. You don't think about it a whole lot, you just keep going”.
In place of Alberts, the Canucks have recalled former 2nd round pick Yann Sauve from the Manitoba Moose.
In 20 games with the Moose this season, Sauve has three assists and eight penalty minutes.
Suave missed the first two months of the season after getting injured in a car accident before training camp. He began the year with the Victoria Salmon Kings, registering two points in seven games, before getting called up to Manitoba in mid December.
Sauve is the 8th rookie and 13th player to make his debut with the Canucks this season.