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Canucks challenge Wild for first in Northwest

by Brian Hunter

WILD (15-10-2) at CANUCKS (13-8-6)


Last 10: Minnesota 7-3-0; Vancouver 3-5-2

Season series: Fourth and final meeting of the regular season between these Northwest Division rivals. The Canucks won the first two, but the Wild prevailed 4-2 on March 10 as Zach Parise scored twice and set up the decisive goal by Jared Spurgeon.

Big story: Minnesota's victory in the most recent matchup of these teams moved it into a tie with Vancouver in points. They remain even heading into Monday's action, setting up a battle for sole possession of first place in the Northwest.

Team Scope:

Wild: The offense has been clicking of late for Minnesota, which comes into this game off a home-and-home sweep of Colorado. Four different Wild scored in the first period alone Saturday afternoon in Denver, with Devin Setoguchi netting the first of his two goals and adding an assist on a Kyle Brodziak tally that opened up a 4-1 lead after 20 minutes. Niklas Backstrom didn't have an easy afternoon, as the Avalanche kept clawing back, but the Wild added some insurance and held on for a 6-4 victory.

"It has been fun," said Dany Heatley, who had a pair of assists. "We have four lines that are playing well, our 'D' is playing well and our goaltender is playing well. Now we have to keep it going. Vancouver is real good in their building and it's going to be a real big one for us."

Canucks: It took all of six seconds after the opening puck drop Saturday for Alexandre Burrows to deposit a shot past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard, but between then and the time Burrows scored again with 2:38 left in the third period, not much went Vancouver's way in what wound up a 5-2 defeat. Burrows set a franchise record for the fastest goal to start a game, but Roberto Luongo and many of his teammates had a rather forgettable night -- David Booth in particular. He suffered an apparent left foot injury and was on crutches after the game.

"We're facing some adversity, but we've got 20 guys in there that can do the job and no one's going to do it for us," Burrows said. "We know what we're made of, we know what we can do and we just have to keep putting those work boots on."

Who's hot: Setoguchi has four goals in the past three games for the Wild. Ryan Suter has a goal and four assists in the past two games. Matt Cullen has five assists in the past four games. … Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler had two assists Saturday, giving him back-to-back multi-point games.

Injury report: Minnesota lost forward Mike Rupp to a lower-body injury during Saturday's game. Forward Jason Zucker (head) and goaltender Josh Harding (illness) are currently sidelined. … Booth is scheduled to have an MRI on Monday. Vancouver forward Zack Kassian was out of the lineup with a stiff back. Forward Ryan Kesler is on injured reserve with a broken foot.

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