The Vancouver Canucks finally ended one losing streak in their most recent game. Another victory on Sunday would end an even longer skid.
The Canucks will look to snap a seven-game slide against the Colorado Avalanche as they continue their longest road trip of the season with a visit to their Northwest Division rivals.
With star goaltender Roberto Luongo out with a groin injury, the Canucks (15-10-2) had lost four straight entering Friday's game at Minnesota, including the first three games of a seven-game road trip.
Vancouver had allowed two or fewer goals in nine of their previous 10 games before the skid, going 8-0-2 over that span - mostly with Luongo in net. But they gave up a total of 16 in the four losses without him, and backup netminder Curtis Sanford allowed six goals before being yanked from a 6-5 loss at Detroit on Thursday.
The Canucks bounced back behind rookie Cory Schneider on Friday, as the 2004 first-round draft pick earned his first NHL victory in a 2-1 win over the Wild. Schneider only faced 17 shots as Jason Jaffray's second-period goal stood up as the game-winner.
"We were definitely better defensively tonight," Canucks coach Allan Vigneault said, "and when we did make mistakes our goaltender came up with big saves."
Schneider's first win came in just his second career start, and the former Boston College star now has a 2.46 goals-against average in four appearances. He may see more action with Luongo's timetable unclear and Sanford having problems with back spasms and ineffectiveness in his last three starts.
"It's exciting to help without a key player like that," said Schneider, who was 10-1 with a 1.37 GAA in the AHL this season.
He also may get a chance to help end Vancouver's run of futility against Colorado. After winning their first two games against Colorado last season, the Canucks lost the last six meetings, and the skid continued with a 2-1 shootout loss at home on Nov. 12.
They are 0-5-2 in their last seven in the series, including 0-3-0 at Pepsi Center.
The Avalanche (12-13-1) return home after a 1-1-1 road trip, which concluded with a 2-1 shootout loss at Dallas on Friday. Marek Svatos scored for Colorado to tie the game in the final minute of regulation, but the Avs lost their first shootout of the season after winning their first four.
"I like them better when we win," Colorado coach Tony Granato said.
While the Canucks cope without Luongo, the Avs have also been dealing with injuries, as veterans Joe Sakic, Adam Foote and Darcy Tucker all remain out.
That certainly hasn't helped Colorado's offense, which ranks last in the Western Conference with 2.42 goals per game. The Avs have scored either one or zero goals in seven of their last 13 games.
Still, they're 7-5-1 over that span thanks in part to some strong work from goalie Peter Budaj. After a tough start to the season, Budaj has a 2.10 GAA in his last 12 starts. He has won three of his last four outings against the Canucks, posting a 1.73 GAA over that span.