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Battle of backups likely as Canucks visit Blue Jackets

by Craig Merz /

COLUMBUS -- The game Sunday night between the Vancouver Canucks and the Columbus Blue Jackets is expected to feature the backup goalies as the starters are rested in the second of back-to-back games for both teams.

Curtis McElhinney will make his Blue Jackets debut after watching 2013 Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky play the first seven games, including Saturday night's 4-1 loss at the Washington Capitals, a fourth defeat in a row to drop Columbus to 2-5.

Eddie Lack, whose only appearance was a 5-4 overtime win vs. the Calgary Flames on Oct. 6 in the Canucks' third game, would replace Roberto Luongo. The Canucks (5-3-1) lost 4-3 in a shootout at the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday afternoon.

Bobrovsky has started 19 straight games and 32 of the past 33 for the Blue Jackets dating back to last season, when he had a 2.00 goals-against average en route to being named the League's top goalie. He has a 2.70 GAA this season and .917 save percentage.

While Bobrovsky would like to play every game, coach Todd Richards is anxious to see McElhinney, who missed several games at the end of the preseason with a lower-body injury.

"I don't doubt (Bobrovsky) could give you 65-70 games, not that that's what we're going to do," Richards said. "But if it came to it, he could."

McElhinney spent all of last season with the Blue Jackets' AHL affiliate in Springfield (29-16-3, 2.32) but has played 69 NHL games since 2007 for the Flames, Anaheim Ducks, Ottawa Senators and Phoenix Coyotes.

Backing a Vezina incumbent is nothing new for him, having played behind the Flames' Miikka Kiprusoff (2006 recipient) for three seasons.

"I'm at a point in my career where I know I how I can handle the situation, just be ready at any time," the 30-year-old said.

The Canucks will turn to Lack, 25, who underwent hip surgery in January after the native of Sweden spent the past three seasons in the AHL with Manitoba and Chicago.

Vancouver coach John Tortorella is expected to keep the newly formed line of Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin plus former Ohio State standout Ryan Kesler together even though the trio did not get a goal Saturday.

Instead, fourth-liner Brad Richardson had a goal for a second straight game and defenseman Kevin Bieksa had three assists against the Penguins.

The contributions from elsewhere were greatly appreciated.

"That helps us a lot," Daniel Sedin said after the game. "That's going to make us win games. You've got everyone working, that's a good thing."

Here are the expected lineups for the Canucks and the Blue Jackets on Sunday at Nationwide Arena.


Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Ryan Kesler

Chris Higgins- Mike Santorelli- Jannik Hansen

David Booth- Brad Richardson- Zack Kassian

Tom Sestito- Jeremy Welsh- Dale Weise

Alexander Edler- Jason Garrison

Dan HamhuisChristopher Tanev

Kevin Bieksa- Ryan Stanton

Eddie Lack

Roberto Luongo

Scratched: Andrew Alberts, Jordan Schroeder, Yannick Weber

Notes: Schroeder suffered a lower-body injury and left Saturday's game. Welsh, a center, was called up from Utica of the American Hockey League and could make his Vancouver debut after being acquired in the offseason from the Carolina Hurricanes.


Cam AtkinsonArtem AnisimovMarian Gaborik

Boone JennerBrandon DubinskyMark Letestu

Blake ComeauRyan JohansenRJ Umberger

Jack SkilleDerek MacKenzieJared Boll

Fedor TyutinDavid Savard

Ryan MurrayJames Wisniewski

Dalton ProutJack Johnson

Curtis McElhinney

Sergei Bobrovsky

Scratched: Ryan Craig, Nick Foligno, Nikita Nikitin

Notes: Foligno missed the past three games for personal reasons but might play tonight. Prout was a healthy scratch the past three games.

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