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Visit To Chi Town

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks


It was just last week when the Canucks lost to the Blackhawks in what they knew was a sub par effort.

"It was very unfortunate. Very disappointing," said a disheartened Alain Vigneault after the game last Wednesday night. "Obviously our execution tonight wasn't good enough."

Vigneault's sentiment was echoed through the locker-room and a common theme that followed.

The Canucks look for redemption tonight when they enter the United Center for the last time this season in what will be the teams' final meeting.

The Canucks have one-game up on the Hawks in the series at 2-1 and have won their last two since facing Chicago in two tight 3-2 victories.

The Hawks have won three of their last five and picked up seven points in that span, while the Canucks look to extend their winning streak to three for the first time since January 18.

But the sting of the shutout loss - the first since December 21 against Boston - hasn't left yet and the Canucks know how crucial the win will be for their moral, especially before coming home to play another divisional rival - the Avs - on Sunday.

"We've got to learn from what happened last week," said Brendan Morrison. "[We've got to] adjust to our game accordingly, and realize it's going to be a tough game."

Not to mention (because it's been mentioned a lot) the win will mean sole possession of first in the Northwest and 10 points up on Colorado.

Although the Hawks are a sub .500 team, there's definitely no counting them out.

"[Chicago's] been playing well lately," says Morrison. "They're a different team with Havlat back and they're healthier than we saw earlier in the year so we have to play another great game. There's no easy games and out goal tonight is to come out here and have a good start and carry that through for a full 60 mintues."


With 54 starts under his belt, Roberto Luongo still has a fire in him and doesn't show any sign of wear and tear like the media likes to portray.

"He's got a little twinkle in his eye right now," said coach Alain Vigneault. "Some guys under pressure [will] cave in, some other guys will just respond better [with] grade A performances. He just seems to be having a great time and responding the right way."

Luongo, in his seventh season in the NHL, has yet to see any post-season action but is positive and focused on making that happen this year in his first season as a Canuck.

He's an All-Star goalie this year, earning the start at the All-Star game in Dallas and set new franchise record becoming the first Canucks goalie to win 30 games in his first season with the Canucks.

"He's telling me he's feeling fine," says Vigneault.

"Other goaltenders have played a lot [too]. [Martin] Brodeur's played 75-78 games and went to the playoffs and he's got a couple of Stanley Cup rings, [Miikka] Kiprusoff's played a lot - there are just some athletes that just want to play and can handle it, he seems to be one of them."

His 32 wins, .921 save percentage, and 2.34 GAA say enough.


The Canucks recalled Tommi Santala from the Manitoba Moose Thursday morning, who returns to the Canucks after playing six games with the Moose on a conditioning assignment.

Santala, who's recorded one point with the Canucks in ten games this season, registered three assists on his trip to Manitoba. He's missed 22 games with an injury since December 9.

The Canucks will also welcome Jan Bulis back to the lineup. He's been out with a bruised shoulder, missing the past two games.

With the addition of Bulis, the Canucks re-assign Brad Moran back to the Moose to make room on the roster. In two games with the Canucks, Moran chipped in with an assist against the Thrashers.

Trevor Linden missed practice Thursday with a sore foot and will be a game-time decision for his status tonight.

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